A former teammate of Baker Mayfield is sticking up for him amid criticism that he’s not a the right choice to take over as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Baker Mayfield, the Twitter jokes basically wrote themselves. Whether the knee-jerk assessments were right or wrong seemed beside the point, as everyone was quick to pile on both the Bucs and Baker for somehow finding each other.
Critics were more cruel toward the Bucs, as mostly everything folks had to say about Baker had been said over the last few years — which seemed to be the point. Less than ideal stints with the Browns and Panthers led many to question the Bucs decision making in bringing in Mayfield to succeed Tom Brady.
The optics of going from Brady to Baker aren’t great on the surface, but there’s more to it than that. Baker isn’t expected to come in and fill Brady’s shoes, and it’s unfair to suggest that as part of the plan.
Similarly, a former teammate of Mayfield’s is arguing that there’s more to Baker than what is being made by his critics. Austin Hooper played with Mayfield in Cleveland and wants to add some counterpoints to those attempting to take his former quarterback down.
Austin Hooper sticks up for Baker Mayfield while speaking to Jim Rome
Among things that have been said about Baker, both in the wake of him signing with the Bucs and in his career before, his leadership and maturity has been called into question. Hooper doesn’t think any of that is accurate or fair.
“Everything that came out about him, it was nothing from guys on the team,” Hooper said, via BucsWire. “Once decisions were made, certain people within a building had to justify their decision. That’s all I’m gonna say about that… He’s never had any issues with anyone in the locker room. He’s a great teammate, he’s a good dude, always checks in on everyone.”
Mayfield’s leadership has been called into question on more than on occasion. Most recently a former Buccaneers player called Mayfield out for not being mature enough and proving as much over his time with the Browns and Panthers.
Hooper seems to suggest that the Browns poisoned the tea with Mayfield after already internally deciding to go with Deshaun Watson over him. He stepped into another tricky situation in Carolina where Matt Rhule really didn’t know what he was doing and thrust Mayfield into a half baked plan.
Once Baker landed with a coach that both knew what he was doing and is actually good, he showed flashes of promise. That’s what the Bucs are betting on, and hoping Dave Canales can work his magic on like he did with Geno Smith in Seattle.
At the bare minimum, Baker is a $4 million consultant with the team. He’ll compete with Kyle Trask in training camp, either beating him out and proving Trask doesn’t have what it takes to be the guy the team builds around or losing the battle thus allowing the Bucs to test Trask over the course of a year.
If Mayfield wins the job, he has another $4.5 million built into his deal to incentivize him to help make the Bucs competitive.