Baker Mayfield is that dude.
The NFL quarterback who hangs out at dive bars.
The team leader who takes his new group of offensive linemen to the Bahamas for a golf trip.
The veteran of four pro franchises who now has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers standing atop the NFC South with a 3-1 record.
“He’s a frickin’ awesome dude,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said on The Season podcast with Peter Schrager. “He’s a dude and the players saw it right away.”
No more Tom Brady was supposed to mean a bad season for Tampa Bay.
Instead, Mayfield is leading a resurgent Bucs team that just knocked off the New Orleans Saints 26-9.
Mayfield has completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 882 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions.
The Bucs have quickly taken to Mayfield, a former No. 1 overall pick who lost his job in Cleveland when the Browns wanted a troubled Deshaun Watson, then bounced from Carolina to the Los Angeles Rams in the same season.
“Baker, he’s a very, very smart person,” Licht said.
Mayfield regained respect across the league when he came off the bench, two days after being claimed off waivers, and led the Rams to a comeback 17-16 victory on Thursday Night Football last season.
“I don’t know if you can write it any better than that,” Mayfield said. “Obviously we’d like to be a little bit more stress free, but it’s a pretty damn good story, I’ll be honest with you.”
By starting 3-1 with Tampa Bay this year, Mayfield is crafting another good story.
The Bucs were predicted to be among the NFL’s worst teams after Brady retired for the second time.
Tampa Bay then began the 2023 campaign with a surprising win over Minnesota.
Mayfield has initially won over the Bucs with his grit, intelligence and determination, and beat out Kyle Trask for the starting QB spot during a training camp competition.
Mayfield’s personality continued to impress Tampa Bay.
Licht said that when he goes around town he’s asked by fans what Mayfield is like
“I don’t know where this started that he wasn’t a good guy,” the GM said.
By connecting with his new teammates, the former Browns/Panthers/Rams QB is putting his bad reputation in the past.
“He’s spotted around town at dive bars with a position group of receivers, with Mike Evans,” Licht said. “It’s not fake. He really knows how to be a dude with the team and they love him.”
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