There is a new trend in the NFL that the Buccaneers need to get up to speed on. The Baker Mayfield situation shows it perfectly.
The NFL is currently a race to getting one of the 12 best quarterbacks in the league. It’s even better if you can find this quarterback in the draft and keep them on a rookie deal for a few years. The Buccaneers saw the first part with Tom Brady.
A team that wasn’t able to even make the playoffs went to being a Super Bowl champion with the main addition being one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Complacency at the quarterback may have worked in the past. That line of thinking is dead now.
In a league that is built around the quarterback and the passing attack, anything worse that one of the 12 best guys at the position is putting you at a disadvantage. This isn’t to say that teams with great schemes and excellent coaching can’t overcome poor quarterback play (49ers), but it is like fighting with an arm tied behind your back.
Baker Mayfield has shown everyone this.
The Browns had a top-20 quarterback in Mayfield before his injury. That number had a way of fluctuating, but let’s not pretend that even that standard is very high. Top-20 was good enough to win a playoff game when the rest of the team was constructed well, but that was as far as the Browns were ever going to go.
With a good receiving corps, run game, defense, and coaching, the Browns had to make a change at quarterback for one of the better options. Deshaun Watson could be the biggest bust of a trade in NFL history if he never makes the field due to his off-field mistakes, but he is undeniably far better than Mayfield as a player and immediately makes the Browns one of the best teams in the league.
The Browns needed a better quarterback to be a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl. Even if Watson doesn’t win, he is still better than what they had, and that is also a growing trend in the league.
Why sit on a quarterback like Mayfield when Watson was on the market? Why sit on Sam Darnold or Drew Lock when Baker Mayfield was on the market?
Complacency at the quarterback position kills. Being satisfied with a fringe-top-20 guy when better players enter free agency every season should be an easy way to get fired.
The Buccaneers need to pay close attention to this as it happens. Mayfield wasn’t better than Watson, but he was better than Darnold. The Panthers got better. There will also be plenty of better players for the Buccaneers than Blaine Gabbert, and probably way more better players than Kyle Trask too.
It’s always about getting better at the quarterback position. Anyone who ignores this is going to be very disappointed with how their team performs when they don’t adhere to this rule.
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