THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — With injuries continuing to mount and a former No. 1 draft pick becoming available, the Los Angeles Rams shook things up Tuesday by claiming quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers.
The Rams’ 2022 season has been a disappointment after their Super Bowl victory last season. Mayfield, who was the No. 1 pick in 2018 by the Cleveland Browns, was waived by the Carolina Panthers on Monday. He is now expected to replace Matthew Stafford throughout the season.
Stafford was placed on injured reserve last week with a spinal cord contusion. His earliest possible return would come in Week 17, although Rams coach Sean McVay said “there’s a good chance” the quarterback won’t play again this season.
What does this all mean for Mayfield and the Rams? We dive into the biggest questions surrounding the quarterback’s new digs.
1. Why did the Rams make this move when they’re virtually out of playoff contention?
The Rams needed another quarterback. With Stafford on reserve injured with a spinal cord contusion and likely out for the rest of the season, they were already relying on backup John Wolford and third-string QB Bryce Perkins.
Wolford, who started the Rams’ Week 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, was examined multiple times by team medical staff during the game and was listed on Monday’s injury report with a neck injury.
Perkins started one game in his career — a Week 12 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs — and the Rams needed a more proven option.
Yes, the Rams are essentially knocked out of the playoff draw, but Los Angeles has five games left and needs another healthy quarterback.
The Rams are also aware that if Mayfield signs with another team this offseason, they could receive a compensating pick in return.
2. Where does Mayfield sit on the depth chart?
Mayfield should be the Rams’ starter, at least while Stafford is on the disabled list.
Whether that will be the case on Thursday when the Rams host the Las Vegas Raiders (8:15 p.m. ET, Prime Video) remains to be seen, as Mayfield would have two days to learn the playbook. There’s a chance Mayfield could play on Thursday, a team source told ESPN. The team is in the process of sending him the playbook to ensure he can investigate the infraction when he flies to Los Angeles on Tuesday night, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen said the team is “realistic” about what it means to bring someone in at this point in the season “and what it might actually look like.” “If it’s something that can provide a spark and someone that can come and help us compete to win football games, that’s the ultimate goal for the last five weeks of the season,” Coen said. .
3. How does he fit into Sean McVay’s attack?
When asked how Mayfield fits into this Rams offense, Coen said, “It’s just kind of a talent acquisition, to be honest.”
“Acquiring someone to come and assess it, but also our offense,” Coen said. “Continue to assess the offense [and] the other players. It’s more about acquiring talent. Just get someone in here so we can continue to develop a competitive nature in the room.”
Coen, who was on the Rams staff in 2018 when the Cleveland Browns drafted Mayfield with the No. 1 pick, recalled that McVay liked Mayfield when he came out for the draft. Coen said McVay and Mayfield “had a few conversations” and that McVay “just liked him as a guy”.
4. How does Mayfield fit into the dressing room?
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said he didn’t know Mayfield would need help acclimating to that Rams locker room. “I think he’s got enough social awareness to be able to do that with the team he comes on, with some of the people you’re going to be with,” Morris said. “It’s hard to be here [this] kind of strong leadership, that kind of strong people and not trying to find your way.” Morris referenced linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has long been in a leadership role in Seattle, saying, “He was able to find his way in the locker room first and fight your way inside. And guys with common sense and guys with a lot of moxie about themselves, they do that naturally.”
5. Could Mayfield be on the list next season?
Making this move could indicate that the Rams are interested in finding another option for the backup quarterback in the future, but I feel like the front office has mostly focused on what this means for the rest of the season, rather than for 2023.
Wolford, who has been with the Rams since 2019, will be a free agent after this season, and Perkins doesn’t have much NFL experience.
While the Rams will want to assess Mayfield, they’re also aware he would be playing with a reduced offense: wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson are out and the offensive line has started 12 different combinations in 12 games.
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