Baker Mayfield’s comeback journey brought him to Las Vegas even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell two wins short.
Mayfield revived his career with the Buccaneers a year after he was dumped by two teams. He replaced an iconic player in Tom Brady, led the Buccaneers to a third straight NFC South title and a playoff rout of Philadelphia while earning a spot in the Pro Bowl and becoming a finalist for the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Now, Mayfield is set to get paid. He’ll be a free agent and the Buccaneers want to keep him. The feeling is mutual.
“I love it there,” Mayfield told The Associated Press. “Obviously, you’re gonna have to evaluate the options and make the best decision for us moving forward. But they allowed me to come in and be myself and embraced us, Emily and I, just the whole city. And so that’s something to be truly grateful for. And we’re definitely not going to forget that. But, it’s a great place.”
The Buccaneers moved to bring in an offensive coordinator who is familiar with Mayfield and the system he had success playing in under Dave Canales, who left to become Carolina’s head coach. The team hired Liam Coen, who spent the 2022 season as the offensive coordinator for the Rams, where Mayfield made four starts after the Browns traded him and the Panthers released him.
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“He’s a fiery guy, a guy that’s been in that system for a long time,” Mayfield said of Coen learning from Sean McVay. “He’s learned under one of the best to call it. And so he knows all the intricate details and things that he needs to be able to call it and coach it the right way. So, he’s a guy that brings the knowledge and the fire as well.
“Looking at free agency and all that, it’s the same system for the Tampa guys. Guys don’t have to relearn the system. It’s the same thing. They can step in. Obviously, terminology might be a little different, but he brings that in and with the knowledge of being around one of the greats to call it, guys should be happy about that.”
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick by Cleveland in 2018, has come a long way and he dispelled his unflattering reputation. His teammates on the Buccaneers praised his work ethic, leadership ability and enjoyed his presence in the locker room and on the field.
“Obviously, you try and work on your own craft, the football aspect, and that just comes with repetition and as you continue to look at it, be really critical about it,” said Mayfield, who made appearances Wednesday on behalf of Advance Auto Parts at Radio Row inside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. “But then off the field, just trying to see what got me to this point in the NFL and how can I continue to improve on that, and what are my weaknesses and how do I handle that?
“And for me, it was looking at how I handle relationships, being the best version of myself and embracing the leadership role. Something I’ve always been inquisitive about is how people are wired, what makes them tick. And so learning how to really push people and get the best out of them. And so for me, that’s something I’ve been passionate about, but at the same time be the best version of myself and trying to encompass all of that and take it one day at a time.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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