The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night by a score of 17-16. The Rams are now 4-9 on the season and likely won’t make the playoff, but they might have struck gold on their future quarterback.
On Tuesday afternoon, Baker Mayfield was picked up on waivers from the Carolina Panthers. Less than three days later, Mayfield led a 98-yard game-winning drive on Thursday Night Football in his team debut. Sound like a fantasy? Well, Mayfield’s entire life in football could be deemed a fantasy.
To say Mayfield’s life in football has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Coming out of high school as a low three-star recruit, Mayfield opted to pass on scholarship offers from schools such as Florida Atlantic, Sam Houston State, and North Texas to attend Texas Tech as a preferred walk-on.
Mayfield would go on to become the first-ever true freshman walk-on to start at quarterback at the FBS level when the projected quarterback, Michael Brewer, went down with an injury before the season. He would play in eight games in a platoon role with quarterback Davis Webb. Mayfield would be awarded as the Big-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, despite missing time with an injury. After the season, he announced that he was leaving the program due to what he deemed to be a “miscommunication” with Kliff Kingsbury and the Texas Tech coaching staff. In a shocking move, he would join conference rival Oklahoma as a walk-on. A source from Oklahoma stated that he had not informed the program of his intentions, and they were not interested in adding any transfer quarterbacks. Mayfield joined the team anyway.
Due to Big-12 transfer restrictions, Mayfield sat out the entire 2014 football season. In 2015, he was named the Sooners’ starting quarterback. The rest, as they say, was history. In the three seasons that Mayfield would play for the Sooners, he would rack up incredible numbers. He would go on to throw for 119 touchdowns and 12,292 yards, all while completing nearly 70% of his throws. Oklahoma would go 34-6 in the 40 games that he would start in Norman, Oklahoma. In 2017, Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy as the first and only walk-on to win the award. All the success and accolades set him up to be the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
He was ranked the 160th best prospect in Texas coming out of HS.
He had zero offers from Power Five teams.
He took his chances and walked on…to TWO different major college programs.
He became the first walk-on to ever win the Heisman.
He is Baker Mayfield – the No.1 pick. pic.twitter.com/EuLMFSljTP
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 27, 2018
The little quarterback that could was now a Heisman Trophy winner and a number one overall draft choice by the Cleveland Browns. In his first season, he would lead the Browns to a 7-8-1 record, their best since 2007, all while setting the rookie record with 27 passing touchdowns. After an up and down sophomore season in the NFL, Mayfield delivered his best in 2020. The Browns were a playoff team for the first time since 2002. To cap it all off, he even defeated dreaded rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the Wild Card round. Including the playoffs, Mayfield threw for over 4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions in 18 games. Unfortunately, it was only down from there.
The @Browns are back in the playoffs.
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 10, 2021
In Week Two of the 2021 season, Mayfield partially tore his labrum. He would continue to play through the injury, and his play on the field suffered greatly. He was not good during the 14 games he played, but that was the least of the Browns’ issues. There was locker room drama surrounding the relationship between Mayfield and star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and it caused a rift within the team. Folks in Cleveland seemed to be growing weary of some of Baker’s antics, and the team saw an opportunity to improve. They controversially traded for Deshaun Watson during the 2022 offseason.
Mayfield was eventually traded to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional draft pick. Frankly, it was a disaster from the word “go”. Carolina fired head coach Matt Rhule by mid-October, traded away Christian McCaffrey, and were headed towards a full-scale rebuild. On Monday, the team would release the quarterback, and he would hit the waiver wire.
A day later, the Rams scooped him up on waivers. Three days later, he was leading the team to a victory on Thursday Night Football. I believe that this is the perfect opportunity for him to rebuild his career. With Matthew Stafford potentially on his way out, Sean McVay is the perfect coach to help Baker Mayfield fully excel. Yes, the Rams are 4-9 this season, but they just won a Super Bowl. They have a stable culture that has won numerous games since McVay took over as head coach. Should Mayfield get a chance to be the full-time starter for the Rams, I believe he will make the most of it and revitalize his NFL career in a move that perfectly mirrors his transition to Oklahoma in college.
BAKER FREAKING MAYFIELDpic.twitter.com/LEk7Zfpofb
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 9, 2022
After being run out of Texas Tech, he found a great opportunity at Oklahoma. He made the most of said opportunity, and history seems to be repeating itself. Baker Mayfield has always thrived in the underdog role. When things have looked bleak in his career, he has found a way to make the most of his opportunities. Whether it’s as a walk-on at Texas Tech or Oklahoma, or being labeled as a first-round bust, nothing has stopped Baker Mayfield in his pursuit of greatness. All he needs is the right opportunity, and the Los Angeles Rams may have just given him his greatest opportunity yet.