The LA Rams have a miraculous quarterback named Baker Mayfield for their remaining four games. He is already 1-0 with an LA Rams team that barely has a pulse, a feat that is even more unbelievable when you understand he had less than 48 hours to learn the Rams’ offense and then execute the game plan almost flawlessly.
Yes, that time comes at you fast in the NFL. But for the LA Rams’ newest quarterback Baker Mayfield, time is relative. He had less than 48 hours to arrive and learn the LA Rams’ entire offense. He had 15 minutes to lead the LA Rams on two touchdown drives. But he had less than two minutes to lead the Rams on the final touchdown drive to tie the score and set the team up for a game-winning extra point.
There have been plenty of excuses for the LA Rams this season. A league of rationalizations why the Rams couldn’t run (hurt offensive linemen, it seemed like a wasted play), why the team couldn’t connect with Allen Robinson (never open, Cooper Kupp was always so open), why the team couldn’t find sufficient reasons to play WR Tutu Atwell (too small, not the right game situation), and to each of those excuses, we learned over time that they were just that: Excuses.
The Rams entered Thursday Night Football with a battered and reassembled offensive line that was held together by pipe cleaners and bubble gum. The Rams had a running game that had almost no business competing at the NFL level. But then, to top it all off, the offense was now being led by a quarterback who was run out of town from two NFL teams and had just hours to learn the Rams playbook, players, plays, and coaching staff.
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So guess how that all turned out?
Okay. A guy deplanes, gets picked up, and shows up at the LA Rams facility long enough to get handed his new uniform and his playbook, walk through some plays, and then take the football field. That is something we’ll be talking about for quite some time, won’t we? So what did all of that look like?
A Thursday Night Football instant Holiday Classic for Amazon Prime. It was the Mayfield Miracle on Stadium Drive. In one fell swoop, the LA Rams have refurbished the career of former-Browns, former-Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield, and launched his stock to among the more coveted NFL free agents.
Can the LA Rams’ free agency budget afford to extend Baker Mayfield?
Right now, Spotrac.com estimates his value at $6.6 million per season, which would be good enough for projecting an awarded sixth-round compensatory 2024 NFL Draft pick. But that was just one game. What happens if QB Baker Mayfield leads the LA Rams to three or more wins in the last five games of the season?
In each off-season, there are more quarterback-needy NFL teams than proven quarterbacks. The difference in that supply versus demand is augmented by importing a new crop of rookie quarterbacks via the NFL Draft. But where does Baker Mayfield stand among available quarterbacks now?
For starters, contenders at risk of losing their starter will be shopping for a proven winner NFL veteran. Then you layer in the teams that feel that they are that a quarterback away from competing in the postseason. Those market forces combined could put Mayfield at the $10 million per season strata similar to Atlanta Falcons QB Marcus Mariota.
It is the LA Rams’ chess strategy. Pick up a disenchanted NFL quarterback. Give him remarkable tools and a game-winning strategy. Let him play his best. Then, sit back and watch as another team pays a huge premium in the hopes that their offense can replicate the Rams’ success.
It’s how the Rams continue to restock their own roster. No first-round picks on the LA Rams roster? I beg to differ. The Rams have plenty of first-round talent on this roster. The Rams organization simply allows other teams to assume finding all the risks of finding the top talent in the NFL draft.
If you want Baker Mayfield back, think of the outcome this way. He may want to start, and the LA Rams cannot offer that in the 2023 NFL season. Besides, the last thing I want to face next season is the outcry to start Mayfield on social media with each Matthew Stafford incompletion in 2023.