Talent-wise, Andy Dalton never had what God gave Baker Mayfield.
And Baker Mayfield doesn’t have what God gave Andy Dalton or Colt McCoy or Chase Daniel.
A little modesty and humility could save Mayfield’s career, for those are the traits that allowed guys like Dalton, McCoy and Daniel to have their careers.
If Mayfield is smart, he will swallow his ego and learn what his fellow Texas-born quarterbacks mastered if he wants to live in the NFL as long as those inferior players.
Step 1: Be a good guy and don’t be a problem.
Certain players can be drama-mamma divas — or even children — provided they are The Man on the field.
This offseason has been Mayfield’s real welcome-to-the-NFL moment.
If you aren’t Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or the precious few others, don’t be a problem.
Dalton, McCoy and Daniel never required a “talkin’ to” to figure it out, whereas Mayfield may need such a discussion.
Dalton will be playing his 12th NFL season after he agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the New Orleans Saints.
The former TCU quarterback, who led the team to a win in the Rose Bowl, signed to back up Jameis Winston, but don’t be surprised when Dalton starts a game or two in 2022. Dalton is 34, been in the NFL since 2011 and has made close to $100 million.
McCoy is 35, been in the NFL since 2010. He recently signed a two-year deal to remain the backup in Arizona. The former Texas star, McCoy has made close to $30 million in his career.
Chase Daniel is 35, and the former Southlake Carroll star has been in the NFL since 2010. Daniel’s career is almost without precedent. He could be a case study at Harvard Business School. He has made more than $40 million in a pro career without “having to work.”
He has five career NFL starts, attempted 261 career passes and he recently signed a contract with the L.A. Chargers.
Dalton was a starter in Cincinnati for nine seasons. McCoy has been a spot starter. Daniel has always been a backup.
No one in that trio of Texas-raised QBs has Mayfield’s abilities as a passer or as an athlete. Yet all three figured out the NFL and the potential benefits of being a good pro in a locker room. That’s why all three of them are set for multiple lives after their respective NFL playing careers are over.
It’s what Mayfield needs to figure out immediately.
It’s one of the reasons why the Browns, the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, will soon trade him or release him.
Mayfield is a talented passer, but the Browns were tired of him as a person. That’s why the team traded for Deshaun Watson.
Despite what they say, they have zero intention of keeping Mayfield as a backup for nearly $19 million.
Mayfield’s ideal destination would be the Pittsburgh Steelers, but in order for that to happen the Browns would have to cut him. It’s hard to see the Browns trading their former starting quarterback to a division rival.
The New England Patriots did that once, when they traded Drew Bledsoe in 2003 to Buffalo in exchange for a first-round draft pick. The Patriots were ready to make Brady their starting quarterback.
Coach Bill Belichick had no fear of facing Bledsoe twice a season. Worked out OK.
Mayfield is a former No. 1 pick who has a 29-30 career record in four NFL seasons as a starting quarterback. In 2020, he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance since 2002.
You would think that would buy him another year with a franchise that has been one of the worst in the NFL since it came back in 1999.
There is a reason why the Browns are moving on. They don’t like him.
It’s one of the reasons why late in his Heisman winning season at Oklahoma in 2017, I wrote that Baker would be an NFL bust.
“Bust” is one of those subjective terms, and Mayfield does not meet the Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell standard definition..
But the team that made Mayfield a starter will soon dump him, even though he has one year remaining on his original rookie contract.
He has shown enough that another NFL team will make him a starting quarterback for 2022.
He will need to go to the right place, and then he needs to figure it out.
If he’s not good enough to be entrusted as a starting quarterback in 2023, he is more than talented enough to be a backup.
To be the veteran backup requires maturity and ego swallowing.
It requires that you be a pro, show up on time, know how to contribute in a meeting room and run an NFL offense with limited reps in practice.
It’s how lesser-talented players like Dalton, McCoy and Daniel keep cashing six- and seven-figure checks.
They don’t play much, but they make much.
Mayfield is better than all of those guys, but he needs to figure it out or he may find himself out of a league because a Chase Daniel will take his spot.