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Baker Mayfield joins struggling Los Angeles Rams as former No. 1 draft pick battles to revive career

<i>Ronald Martinez/Getty Images</i><br/>Mayfield celebrates a Cleveland Browns touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter on October 4
Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Mayfield celebrates a Cleveland Browns touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter on October 4

By Ben Morse, CNN

The Los Angeles Rams claimed former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield off waivers on Tuesday as the team looks to strengthen its quarterback room in the wake of recent injuries.

A player is waived when a team deems the player is no longer needed.

The player is then placed onto the waiver wire, allowing them to be claimed by other teams — under the conditions of their current contract. If they are not claimed, the contract is terminated and they become an unrestricted free agent.

The 27-year-old Mayfield was waived by the Carolina Panthers on Monday after a disappointing first season with the team.

Quarterback Mayfield began the season as Carolina’s starter, but was benched in Week 6 before making two further appearances in Weeks 9 and 11, though he had fallen behind both Sam Darnold and PJ Walker in the depth chart.

Mayfield finished his time with the Panthers with a record of 1-5 as a starter, 1,313 passing yards, six touchdown passes, six interceptions and a passer rating of 74.4.

Just a day after he was waived, the struggling Rams picked up Mayfield, who had been taken as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

The Rams, who are the defending Super Bowl champion, have endured an injury-ridden season. The team’s latest casualty is starting quarterback Matthew Stafford who was placed on the injured reserve with a spinal cord contusion.

The Rams have lost six straight games, falling to a record of 3-9 and are almost certainly out of the playoff race.

Mayfield is being added to a quarterback room which includes John Wolford, who is dealing with neck soreness, according to head coach Sean McVay, and Bryce Perkins.

The Rams face the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night so it would be a quick turnaround if Mayfield was to be active for that match.

When asked if Mayfield might play Thursday, Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen said he had no sense on whether he will or not.

However, Coen was full of praise for the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner.

“He’s the type of guy, he’s gonna go out and compete his tail off. Glad to have him in the room, for sure,” Coen told reporters on Tuesday, per the NFL.

“It’s just kind of acquiring talent, to be honest, and acquiring somebody to come in and evaluate him, but also our offense. Continuing to evaluate the offense, the other players.

“It’s more so about acquiring talent. Just getting somebody in here that we can continue to develop some competitive nature within the room.”

Mayfield entered the league with so much promise for the Browns.

In his rookie season, despite starting the season on the bench, he threw 27 touchdown passes, breaking the record for the most touchdown passes thrown by a rookie quarterback — a record previously held by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.

And in his third season in Cleveland, he helped the team to an 11-5 record, clinching the team’s first winning season since 2007 and ending their 18-year playoff drought.

He also led the team to a famous 48-37 playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns’ first playoff win since the 1994 season, before losing narrowly to the Kansas City Chiefs in the next round.

The 2021 season was a stop-start affair for Mayfield as he was hindered by a hip injury (torn labrum).

He struggled with accuracy issues as a result, ventually undergoing surgery on the injury before the final game of the season, ending his season prematurely.

Mayfield threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in the 14 games he played in 2021.

In the offseason afterwards, Mayfield requested a trade from the team. His request came after the Browns traded for embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson and signed him to a contract extension.

Mayfield finished his time in Cleveland with 14,125 passing yards with 92 touchdowns against 56 interceptions in 60 games.

He was later traded to the Panthers for a 2024 conditional fifth-round draft pick.

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