Baker Mayfield Trade Market: Would the Indianapolis Colts take another reclamation project?

Baker Mayfield has been a volatile QB since he entered the league in 2018. Could the Indianapolis Colts take on another reclamation project?

A few days back, it was rumored that Baker Mayfield wanted a trade to the Indianapolis Colts as the Browns chased down another option at quarterback. The former Texas Tech and Oklahoma QB will be on the move after the Browns made a deal for Deshaun Watson. He wants the Colts, but do the Colts want him. More importantly, should the Colts pursue Mayfield in a trade?

Could Baker Mayfield fit as an Indianapolis Colts QB?

Mayfield’s 2021 performance alone should not be the end-all, be-all for how fans and organizations evaluate him. He was a good quarterback in a good situation in 2020, and he was good in the first two weeks of 2021 before he injured his shoulder. Ideally, he could get back to that level in 2022 with the Colts if he remains healthy.

But is Mayfield a good schematic fit? How would he fit into the culture in Indianapolis? And can he fix the mechanical issues that progressed as he played through injury in 2021?

How does Mayfield fit the Colts schematically?

The answer on the surface is that he doesn’t. For all the issues Carson Wentz faces, his ability to quickly get through progressions in the quick game wasn’t necessarily one of them. Since their time with Jacoby Brissett, and especially with Philip Rivers, Colts head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady have coveted attacking quickly.

However, the “fit” is complicated because Reich and Brady are good coaches. They didn’t completely flip the script offensively for Wentz, but they made things fit his strengths and hide his weaknesses for as long as possible last season.

They would do the same with Mayfield, but we must first identify his strengths. And after the last season, those strengths are hard to find.

A strength became a weakness in 2021

Mayfield’s strength as a passer has always been his ability to attack the intermediate areas of the field. His ability to make “NFL throws” was always a big draw for the QB. However, it’s not something he’s ever been consistent with because his mechanics have never been consistent. He simply had the natural arm talent to get away with it usually. That’s partially the reason why he was good as a rookie, struggled in 2019, and then was good again in 2020.

In addition to his mechanics falling apart as he fought through injury, his mind took a step back last season. There were far too many instances when Mayfield missed simple high-low reads over the middle.

However, seeing Reich and Brady keep Wentz in check as well as they did gives me hope they can cultivate an offensive environment that could help Mayfield get back to his 2020 self.

The injury complicates his development

We can and should, in some ways, send Mayfield his flowers for fighting through injury and playing last season. However, it got to a point where it was painfully obvious the injury was hurting his play and the team’s chances of winning.

His surgery from mid-January reportedly has a 4-6 month recovery period. That gets him back into throwing in April-May and participating part-time during offseason programs.

The recovery timetable doesn’t necessarily allow him to fine-tune his sequencing issues. Before the injury, he already had some bad habits, and they worsened after it. It takes a maniacal approach to fix those issues. He won’t have the time to do so before 2022.

Bringing Mayfield in at $18.9 million as a one-year rental while giving up more draft capital for a quarterback is a massive risk for Indy’s front office.

Mayfield’s underdog attitude could be welcomed in the Indianapolis Colts locker room

Mayfield may as well copy Anthony Brown’s tattoo. The chip on Mayfield’s shoulder has been evident since he arrived at Oklahoma. Many on the Colts roster will covet that underdog attitude. Defensive leaders Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore III both possess that same mentality.

Every person is different. It didn’t appear that Wentz had the type of personality that fit in the Colts’ blue-collar locker room. Mayfield also doesn’t have the same erratic play style as Wentz, although he’s still been volatile in his career so far.

Ultimately, a move for Mayfield will come down to whether the front office is willing to take another shot on a reclamation project at quarterback for the second straight season. After an epic late-season collapse by Indianapolis that lost them a playoff berth, it’s tough to imagine they would. However, they may not see another option they prefer.


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