ESPN’s Mina Kimes published an outstanding profile of Browns quarterback and occasional wide receiver Baker Mayfield earlier this week, so naturally we dove right into it and did the first thing any self-respecting New Englander would: scour all 4,000+ words for anything and everything about the Patriots, because yes, it is always all about us.
As luck would have it, there was!
That report you probably saw back after the 2018 draft when New England was sitting pretty with 2 first-round picks and 2 second-round picks (translation: enough ammo to party) about the Pats potentially being interested enough in Baker to swing a draft-breaking trade all the way to Pick #2?
Yeah, it wasn’t just you. Baker was right there with you. From ESPN:
Until the day of the draft, Mayfield wasn’t sure the Browns would take him with the first overall pick. (For a while, he was convinced New England would trade up for him at No. 2.) He found the challenge of joining a long-struggling team -- Cleveland’s last playoff appearance was in 2002 -- exhilarating. “I wanted to come here and play and be the one to change it right away,” he explains, snapping his fingers.
Mmmmmkay. So far so good, right? Knowing that Cleveland (apparently correctly) had Baker pegged as the BAMF the prophecy foretold to save the Browns from...themselves, there’s no way they would’ve traded the #1 pick, to the Patriots or anyone else.
(although in hindsight, it would’ve been hysterical to flip pick #1 to the Giants for pick #2 and maybe some second & third rounders just so New York could take Saquon at #1 and the Browns still get Baker at #2. What, you didn’t think we’d get through this without hating on the Giants at least a little bit, did you? They MUST be teabagged.)
Back on topic, my oh-god-July-has-turned-my-brain-to-fried-dough question is this:
1) Tom Brady wants to play until he is 45 years old. We know this, and we have known this, for years now. As far as the old Google-machine tells me, cause after this many Super Bowl runs, your memory gets a bit fuzzy sometimes, Brady’s been saying to anyone that’ll listen that he wanted to play to 45 as early as almost right after the 28-3 Bowl, and if you count a leaked email from IdealGasLawGate, Brady’s had his Rocky-montage laser focus on the next championship and playing till 45 (in that order) since at least the spring of 2015. If we know this, Belichick, Caserio, & Kraft also know this, and most likely have for some time now.
2) IF Bill cashes all his chips and, just for fun, let’s say, trades both 2018 first-rounders and then whatever else it takes to jump from Pick #23 to the second overall spot, and Baker Mayfield is a New England Patriot, he signs a 4-year rookie deal with a 5th-year team option.
Tom Brady, at the time of the 2018 draft, would’ve been a svelte 40, about to be 41 years old in August. That means Year 1 of Baker’s rookie deal would’ve been this past season, riding the pine a la Jimmy Garropolo and all the young guns before him that might’ve thought they would get the keys to the Maserati one day. Going into the 2019 season, Brady celebrates his 42nd birthday right around the first week of preseason per usual, Baker dutifully holds the clipboard while keeping a hair-trigger on his chinstrap just like Brady did back when he was the #2 option if Bledsoe went down, and so on.
You can probably see where we’re going with this. Subtlety, after all, has never been your author’s strong suit. The 4 years of Baker’s rookie deal line up dead-on-balls-accurate with the last year the G.O.A.T. plays before his *DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN* 45th birthday, and then what?
Granted, Tom hasn’t been super clear about what “play till I’m 45” actually means, probably because nobody is as obsessed with the subject as your Pats Pulpit staff and readers, but that still leaves only two possibilities (well, technically three, but for the sake of trying to make sense of this trade-that-never-was, we’re going to assume that the Patriots wouldn’t pick up Mayfield’s fifth-year option, which would likely cost at least $22 million, just to turn around and trade him. Also, depending on which rumors you believe, Brady will never be traded, end of discussion. Right? Right. Good talk):
1) Brady retires after the 2022 NFL season, New England picks up Baker’s fifth-year option, and Bakermania is finally unleashed in the east.
2) Brady plays out the 2023 NFL season, thus fulfilling his own final goal of playing an entire season at age 45. Meanwhile, the Patriots pick up Baker’s 5th year option, carry two quarterbacks that’d collectively take up at least $50 million in cap space, and after THAT season, New England has to make Baker the richest man in NFL history just to keep him in Foxboro.
Do either of these sound like the endgame Belichick and Kraft and Caserio would’ve had in mind if they pulled the trigger on the trade of the century to pick up Mayfield at 2nd overall? And even if they did have doubts about Brady’s ability to play till 45, after his MVP 2017 season, would they follow that up by promptly trading a metric ton of assets that could pick up key pieces to keep the dynasty rolling like, oh, that Sony Michel kid, just to have the QUARTERBACK OF THE FUTURE on the roster for...whenever it is that he actually gets to take over?
In theory, of course, there’s always the possibility that Brady abruptly hits his self-imposed deadline of “When I start to suck”, but if you recall, not only was TB12 the MVP of the NFL in 2017, he also set the Super Bowl passing yardage record against one of the league’s best defense with 505 passing yards in New England’s loss. Seems unlikely! Especially at the time the Pats would’ve been strategizing around the 2018 draft!
Baker seems awesome, he played his balls off once he finally got the call last year, and if it’s worth anything, he also seems like a great Belichick type guy. He’s got that same bottomless chip on his shoulder that Brady’s always had, minus the whole first-overall-pick-vs-pick-199 thing. He’s got the balls to believe he can make any throw, the arm to do it, and by the looks of it, the smarts that basically make the sky the limit. And honestly, if his agent wants to float it out there like fact, hey, gotta build the brand, then more power to ‘em. Just don’t expect us in New England to buy it.
Anyway, time for some grilling, pool hangs, and frisbee. You guys enjoy your weekend.