During the offseason most analysts were low on the Tampa Bay buccaneers prospects for the season. With the retirement of Tom Brady, everyone wrote off what this Buccaneers offense could be. Especially considering that they replaced him with journeyman quarterback, Baker Mayfield.
After signing with the Buccaneers in the summer, Mayfield was on his fourth team over the course of one year. Seems like the Carolina Panthers and the Cleveland Browns decided that he wasn’t good enough to be part of the franchise. This led to his $4 million contract, and attempt to prove himself for the season.
Well, prove himself is exactly what he’s doing. Not only is Mayfield showing that he is a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL but he’s also having one of the best seasons around the league. He is currently 12th in passing yards and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns. He also has the second fewest interceptions among all quarterbacks who have attempted over 500 passes.
This blend of passing statistics is as good as anyone in the league. Sure there are guys like Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen, who have thrown for more yards and comparable touchdowns, but both have nearly twice as many interceptions this season. Guys like Matthew Stafford and Jalen Hurts both have more yards, but also have fewer touchdowns and more interceptions.
So when the year where the Most Valuable Player award is wide open, why not Baker Mayfield? When you really sit down and look at it, the question isn’t as crazy as many would have thought a month ago. And with a strong finish to the season, this could be a legitimate conversation.
Mayfield is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL while also still putting up strong numbers. This efficiency makes up for not being at the top of the standings in things like yards and touchdowns. We saw a similar situation when Aaron Rodgers won the MVP in 2021 while ranking 10th in passing yards and tied for 4th (with Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes) in passing touchdowns.
Mayfield has a chance to finish with comparable numbers in terms of standings. However, he also has a chance to finish higher as well. How much higher is something we’ll find out over the next two weeks.
Right now there are five players with more touchdown passes than Mayfield’s 26. Three have 27, one has 29 and one has 30. So with games remaining against a depleted New Orleans Saints team and a Carolina Panthers team that’s been the worst in the NFL this year, it’s not unreasonable to think that Mayfield could finish in the top three in touchdown passes.
Similarly with passing yards, there are eleven guys ahead of him in the standings (with one being benched last week). Mayfield is about 150 yards from being in the top eight and 300 yards from being in the top five in passing yards. Just like with touchdowns, Mayfield can finish in that 7th to 5th range with a strong finish.
If that’s the case where Mayfield is 7th in passing yards and 2nd in passing touchdowns, then he’s a name worth mentioning in MVP talks. Throw into that the fact that he will likely have the fewest or second fewest interceptions amongst those quarterbacks then he will be a strong candidate.
When push comes to shove, do I think Mayfield will win MVP? No, I really don’t. Do I think he would deserve to win it with the stats that I expect him to have? Once again, no I don’t think so. However, there is a real case to be made that he should be in that conversation.