Detroit Lions should trade for Baker Mayfield

In Paul Rochon’s first Big Picture of the Week, he lays out the case for why the Detroit Lions should trade for Baker Mayfield.

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Paul Rochon: My big picture continues with the Lions rebuild and subsequently how they can get to contention. This is all about giving contention and not giving up a ton of assets to do it. What is the hardest part for a rebuilding football team? I think pretty much everyone would agree, it’s getting your quarterback.

How many times have we seen that even if you tank and get the top pick and pick a quarterback, he doesn’t pan out? People in Chicago would well know this. They gave up a lot of draft capital to move up to number two, draft their quarterback for whatever reason, whether you blame coaching or the player himself, or a combination of the two, it didn’t work out.

This is a common thing. The reason it’s so dangerous for rebuilding teams is you often need to take several shots to get your quarterback position and this is why teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars are stuck rebuilding for a decade, because it’s so hard to get a quarterback, right?

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They don’t pan out frequently and they cost so much to acquire. What did Chicago give up to trade up and get Mitch Trubisky just last season? What did the Niners give up to move up to number three and draft Trey Lance. This is a huge acquisition. Even if you’re sitting there like the Lions this year with the number two pick.

Well, now there’s not a quarterback worthy of taking it number two this season. Maybe there is but you’re still blowing a number two pick on somebody that has the most volatile pan-out rate in the entire sport. 

The point is, if you’re getting lottery tickets, you want as many as you can for as cheap as possible. You want to use them in ways that have the highest percentage of panning out. There happens to be a lottery ticket out there right now in the league waiting for a new home and that lottery is Baker Mayfield

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Trade for Baker Mayfield?

I think Baker Mayfield would be the perfect acquisition for the Detroit Lions for several reasons. Number one, it’s usually incredibly costly to acquire a quarterback and he’s going to be cheap because the Browns are desperate to get rid of him. Secondly, they don’t have anywhere to put Baker Mayfield. They went and traded Deshaun Watson and Baker demanded a trade out of there. Now he doesn’t want anything to do with Cleveland and Cleveland doesn’t need two starting-caliber quarterbacks. So already they’re desperate to get him out of there.

I don’t know if you guys have noticed lately but Cleveland’s phone has not been blowing up from teams trying to trade for Baker Mayfield. Baker Mayfield maybe could be had for like a third-round pick. I don’t know what he’s actually going to go for. Maybe it’s a late first. It could be a second. Maybe it’s a conditional first-round pick that could be a second or a third pick. If it’s not a top 25 pick, even if it was around that area, you’re not giving up a top 10 pick. 

I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on Baker Mayfield. You might say why? Mayfield sucks. He hasn’t performed because he’s a midget quarterback that was a walk-on in college and he’s not cut out for the NFL. Well, I’m here to tell you, I’ve seen this story before. I want to be clear by saying upfront that I don’t think Baker Mayfield is going to be Drew Brees. I want you to understand where I’m coming from and why I have the audacity to compare them. I’m comparing their first few years in the league and they are kind of identical.

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You see Drew Brees went to a, not that good San Diego team and Drew Brees started in San Diego for four years. Just like Baker Mayfield has in Cleveland. Drew Brees played 59 games for San Diego, Baker Mayfield has played 60 games for the Cleveland Browns. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Well let’s see how they did, Baker Mayfield, average yards and attempts 7. Drew Brees, average yards and attempts in San Diego, 6.8. Those are similar numbers. Passer rating, 84.9 for Drew Brees. Passer rating for Baker Mayfield, 87.8. These are very similar numbers. What did these quarterbacks have knocked on them when they came out of college? They’re short quarterbacks, Drew Brees, only six foot. There’s not a lot of six-foot signal-callers in the NFL. Baker Mayfield, six foot one. 

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We have seen Baker Mayfield have success in the NFL and a lot of ups and downs. A few years ago he had a pretty darn decent season. A couple of years before he was on the outs in San Diego, in large part due to a shoulder injury Drew Brees had a pretty good season. 

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What happened to Baker Mayfield last year? He injured his shoulder. He tried to play through a shoulder injury. Let’s not forget that Baker Mayfield led Cleveland to the playoffs. He is the last quarterback to lead Cleveland to the playoffs. This is a quarterback that to me, there’s so many similarities. Touchdown percentage for Baker Mayfield, 4.8. Drew Brees in San Diego 4.4.

Interception for both quarterbacks, 2.9%. Both quarterbacks, their first four years starting in the leak, such similar profiles. Why does this matter? Does this mean Baker Mayfield’s going to turn into Drew Brees? No. Drew Brees got in the right spot in New Orleans with the right coach and developed a ton.

What it means is the book is far from written on Baker Mayfield. We’re in a modern league where we want to write the book on quarterbacks after a year or two and act like they can never blossom or change or evolve. Baker Mayfield gave Cleveland more success than they’ve had in a long time. Maybe more success than ever.

Now they’re done with him because they want to get the next new, shiny toy. Baker, coming off a shoulder injury, needing to rejuvenate his career, why couldn’t he do it in Detroit? I don’t know if he’s going to become our Drew Brees but it’s a risk worth taking. Quarterbacks are hard to hit and that’s a lottery pick.

First off, It’s not costing you three first-round picks to trade up and so you get him. He’s making like $18 million this year. Secondly, Mayfield will certainly make it much more interesting to watch. Lastly, he’s a much better bridge quarterback than Jared Goff.

He comes here and you say, listen, you’re trying to rejuvenate your career. If you wash out here, you’re probably never going to start in the NFL again, meaning Jared Goff is probably never going to start in the NFL again, outside of injuries or just an exceptionally bad team. 

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You offer him, hey, we’ll extend your deal. We’ll give you two years and another $40 million so you get a little bit of job security. $20 million for our quarterbacks is nothing in today’s league, especially while we’re rebuilding. Maybe he takes the deal, maybe he doesn’t, but then you get a couple of years while you’re rebuilding to figure out if he’s your long-term answer.

If he’s your long-term answer, you’ve solved the hardest problem to solve and if he never gets on that, Drew Brees trajectory, what did it cost you? A second-round pick? Some money? You have to pay a quarterback anyway. In short, it doesn’t cost you a lot to find out and you didn’t waste a ton of draft capital. Now you can make a move to get your replacement.

Again, Baker Mayfield is a funner and better bridge to your next quarterback. There is so little downside here and it’s another lottery ticket. Take your chance Detroit. Go get Baker Mayfield.

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