Did the Atlanta Falcons miss out on Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield?
By Nick Halden
Baker Mayfield joined the NFC South last week joining two more former disappointing first-round picks in the Atlanta Falcons Marcus Mariota and the New Orleans Saints Jameis Winston. Baker had limited success with the Browns but the team opted to go all-in on Deshaun Watson leaving Baker as an obvious off-season trade piece.
Cleveland gave away their leverage by acquiring Watson before moving Baker and ended up sending Mayfield to Carolina for a conditional draft pick while paying a large portion of Baker’s salary. It is objectively a great deal for Carolina and one Atlanta Falcons fans might be wondering if it is one they should have made?
While the trade would have made sense even after adding Marcus Mariota to some degree the Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder leaving no question as to whether or not the team needed Baker. As interesting as Baker might be as a project quarterback Atlanta made the right decision bringing in Mariota.
The roster isn’t ready to win now and the team needs a veteran leader who will handle losing his job gracefully if he were to lose time to the rookie. Baker doesn’t fit that description and simply put is far from the right fit for this Atlanta Falcons team.
Mariota has comparable numbers and as much playoff success while having the benefit of being benched and hopefully learning from his mistakes. There is also a notable difference in Mariota’s ability to make plays off schedule and outside the pocket with his feet. While Mayfield moves well he is far from the runner Mariota is and at times has lacked pocket awareness.
No matter how well Baker performs in Carolina the Falcons made the right decision for a team who needed the stability that Mariota will bring.
There is no questioning Baker Mayfield’s raw talent, however, there is reason to wonder what effect he would have on rookie Desmond Ridder and this young Atlanta roster? The Falcons are focused on building a new culture and bringing in guys who fit what they are attempting to build. As interesting as Baker to Atlanta might have been the Falcons making the far more boring move points to the fact Atlanta is making the right decisions, decisions that are setting this team up for future success.