Baker Mayfield has reached another stop on his strange NFL journey.
The 2018 No. 1 draft pick agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $8.5 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. He’ll have the unenviable task of competing for the job Tom Brady just vacated, after the future Hall of Famer announced his retirement this offseason.
Mayfield’s career started off with promise, as he led the Cleveland Browns to an 11-5 record and a wild-card win in 2020. His 2021 season was derailed by injury, however, and the Browns traded him to the Carolina Panthers. There he struggled, lasting only until December, when he asked for and was granted his release. Mayfield showed life with the Los Angeles Rams, who signed him after Matthew Stafford was placed on injured reserve. Though he had a losing record overall, Mayfield led the Rams to an exciting 17-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-14 rout of the Denver Broncos.
Mayfield is part of an unusual NFL list — a former No. 1 pick who has played for three or more teams in his career. Here are some other notable top picks who’ve done the same since the turn of the century.
Drafted by the Houston Texans, Clowney made three Pro Bowls with the team before it traded him to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019. He joined the Tennessee Titans the year after that, then had a bit of a renaissance with the Browns, recording nine sacks in 2021.
Sam Bradford, drafted 2010
Drafted as the St. Louis Rams’ quarterback of the future, Bradford showed promise in his first few seasons. Injuries caught up with him, however, and he suffered a season-ending ACL injury seven games into the 2013 season. Another injury to the same ACL in preseason ended his 2014 season before it started. Bradford was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 and performed well, but the Eagles decided to trade up to draft Carson Wentz, and Bradford was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. He had a league-leading 71.6 completion percentage with the team in 2016, and started off well in 2017 before nagging knee injuries derailed him. He joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, playing only three games before being replaced.
Jake Long, drafted 2008
Long spent five successful seasons with the Miami Dolphins, making the Pro Bowl four times, before signing a four-year, $36 million contract with the Rams. He suffered an ACL injury in 2013, however, and another one in 2014, leading to his release in March 2015. Long played eight games total with the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings over the next two seasons before calling it quits.
Mario Williams, drafted 2006
Williams had one of the more normal career progressions on this list — good seasons on his Texans rookie contract, then a big six-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. He was released four seasons into that deal, played one more year with the Miami Dolphins, then retired after being released.
Alex Smith, drafted 2005
Smith struggled mightily with injuries at the beginning of his career, missing the entire 2008 season with a shoulder injury. He looked to be putting things together in 2011, however, going 13-3 and leading the San Francisco 49ers to the conference championship round. The team signed him to a three-year contract that offseason, but a concussion in 2012 led to his replacement by Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs, with whom he made three Pro Bowls. The Chiefs ended up drafting Patrick Mahomes and Smith served as mentor before a trade to the Washington Commanders. Smith suffered a horrifying leg injury with Washington and missed the 2019 season as a result. He returned for one more season before retiring.
Carson Palmer, drafted 2003
Palmer’s career is somewhat unusual in that his two long stints (with the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals) were interrupted by two years with the Las Vegas Raiders. His time with the Bengals ended acrimoniously, and the team traded him to the then-Oakland Raiders in 2011. Oakland just missed the playoffs that season before going 4-11 in 2012. Palmer was traded to Arizona, where he ended up having one of his best years as a pro, leading the squad to the 2015 conference championship game.
David Carr, drafted 2002
Derek Carr’s older brother spent his initial five seasons with the Houston Texans, going 22-53 with 59 touchdowns and 65 interceptions — and getting sacked an astounding 249 times. He signed with the Panthers, starting only four games with them, and then spent the rest of his career with the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers as a backup.
Michael Vick, drafted 2001
At first, it seemed like Vick would be with the Atlanta Falcons for life, as he made three Pro Bowls with the team and seemed to herald a new kind of mobile quarterback. His conviction for involvement in a dog fighting ring sent him to prison, however, and when he returned he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing with them for five seasons before injuries led the team to go with Nick Foles. Vick finished his career with short stints with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.