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Baker Mayfield Set to Cash In On Second Act

Baker Mayfield’s big comeback year with Tampa Bay is earning him millions in incentives and setting himself up for a huge free agency payday.

Success is never guaranteed in the NFL, even for Heisman Trophy-winning No. 1 overall picks like Baker Mayfield.

A number of factors led to Mayfield’s trade from Cleveland to Carolina during the 2022 offseason. Hyped as the Browns’ franchise savior when he was drafted first out of Oklahoma in 2018, inconsistent play on the field, a vocal split with top wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and a divide with the front office led to Cleveland trading for Deshaun Watson and Baker being deemed a disappointment.

A rough 2022 hardly dispelled that sentiment. Mayfield went 2-8 as a starter last season with a 26.3 QBR between Carolina and the L.A. Rams, forcing him to sign a one-year, $4 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as perhaps his final chance to get a meaningful opportunity as an NFL starter at just 28 years old.

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The potential for Baker was always there. His 26 touchdown, eight interception season with Cleveland in 2020 when the Browns went 11-5 and won their first playoff game in 26 years was proof. This season with the Bucs is his best season since then, capped by an incredible performance in Sunday’s win over Green Bay that propelled them into the thick of the playoff race.

Statistically, Mayfield had one of the best road QB performances in NFL history. He’s the third player to ever post a perfect 158.3 passer rating on the road with at least 375 passing yards (Mayfield had 381) and four TDs in a 34-20 victory at Lambeau. At 7-7, Tampa Bay is now -135 to win the NFC South, according to FanDuel SportsBook, which will likely be decided in a New Year’s Eve matchup against New Orleans.

Improbably, Mayfield is now seventh in the league in pass attempts that result in TDs, eighth in TD passes, eighth in adjusted yards per attempt, ninth in passer rating, ninth in yards per completion, and ninth in interception percentage.

Those numbers underscore how much the Bucs got themselves a steal this season in Baker, with his $1.7 million cap hit ranked 49th in the league among QBs this season, per Over The Cap, below C.J. Beathard, Cooper Rush, Andy Dalton, Mike White, and Jared Stidham. But Mayfield’s contract came with a potential extra $4.5 million in incentives that will drastically increase his 2023 payday based on his impressive play.

Baker Mayfield Contract Incentives

Many of the incentives Mayfield agreed to before the season, per The 33rd Team, look pretty attainable right now:

  • If Mayfield plays in 66% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps: $500,000
  • 75% of offensive snaps: An additional $250,000
  • 85% of offensive snaps: An additional $250,000
  • If Baker finishes the 2023 regular season ranked Top-10 in the NFL or Top-5 in the Conference in: Passer Rating, TD Passes, Total Yards Passing, Completion Percentage, Yards Per Pass: $300,000 each.
  • If he plays in 66% of offensive snaps plus team makes playoffs: $1 million
  • 75% of offensive snaps plus team makes playoffs: An additional $500,000
  • 85% of offensive snaps plus team makes playoffs: An additional $500,000
  • 75% of offensive snaps plus 75% of playoff game snaps: $250,000 per playoff game

Assuming Mayfield stays healthy in the final three games, he’ll get an extra $1 million for snap percentage, several hundred thousand in season-long passing incentives, and an extra $2 million on top of that if Tampa Bay makes the playoffs. There may be no more motivated player to reach the postseason in the league than Mayfield, who could go into free agency in March coming off a redemptive second act that may just lead to the enormous payday many thought he’d eventually get all along. Right now, Baker is more than earning it.

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