The Los Angels Rams have claimed former first-round draft pick, Baker Mayfield, off waivers. Mayfield requested a release from the Panthers late last week. Rams Offensive Coordinator, Liam Coen said this move gives the Rams a “chance to evaluate talent.” Mayfield’s talent level is the paramount concern. Strike One: The Browns offloaded him for a sack of potatoes. Strike Two: The Panthers opted to keep him on the bench rather than roll with him once he healed after sustaining a high-ankle sprain.
It’s not a surprise that Carolina moved away from Mayfield. He didn’t play well when given the opportunity, but the Panther’s offense and overall culture certainly left a lot to be desired. It isn’t the best landing spot for any quarterback, but Cleveland WAS a much better situation. And Mayfield did not play well in his last two or three seasons with the Browns.
The truth of the matter is the Rams quarterback depth is getting dire. Matthew Stafford is out for the season and backup John Wolford has been dealing with injuries basically anytime he gets near the field. One thing that is known: Mayfield is a quarterback. This move insures the Rams can ACTUALLY have a quarterback to field for the next five weeks. If he is good or not is of secondary importance to the Rams.
Another truth: The Rams season is lost. If the Rams ran the table (which they won’t) they would still end with a losing record and next to no chance of making the playoffs. This is likely a move to provide some options for next season.
Stafford suffered a spinal contusion, the second serious spine injury of his career. One of those injuries would cause a common man to choose a simple life rather than putting his literal life in harm’s way. Stafford may choose to return, but there is no guarantee that Stafford will go uninjured through the 2023 season. Neck injuries and mysterious elbow limitations. But there certainly is no guarantee that he won’t opt to just hang ‘em up.
What Mayfield Offers the Rams
Neither Wolford nor Bryce Perkins is the future starting quarterback for the LA Rams. They need to start planning an air-tight succession plan for when Stafford’s Rams days are over. Whether that is sooner or later. The Rams failed to do that for Andrew Whitworth and they are paying the price this season.
Mayfield isn’t likely the long-term future for the Rams, but if he proves he can be a competent quarterback over the next five games, the Rams will have a bridge quarterback in the event that Stafford retires. If Stafford returns next season the Rams have brought on what would be one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league as an insurance policy in the event that Stafford is hurt again. Mayfield is also on a one-year contract, so if he is incompetent, he could turn into a comp pick for the Rams.
What The Rams Offer Mayfield
As good as Mayfield had it in Cleveland, he will have an even softer landing with the Rams. The Rams offer him a fresh start in a good offense and there are no expectations on him other than being better than Wolford and Perkins. (Which he is.) The Rams have offered players in his position and his perceived reputation a chance to redeem themselves. So the Rams give Mayfield the best chance to continue being a quarterback in the NFL. Whether that is with the Rams or with another team. He is just 27 years old and on a one-year deal, so there is still plenty of time and options for him if he can make a good showing.
In terms of what other teams showed interest in Mayfield, there weren’t any. Jeremy Fowler reported that the Rams were the ‘lone team’ that placed a claim on him. So, this isn’t a move to simply spit in the eye of the rival 49ers. To reiterate, the Rams needed a quarterback. What it does mean is that Mayfield will have to trudge his way back into the good graces of NFL teams and that includes the Rams.