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Despite a couple of strange years, Baker Mayfield remains confident

Mike Florio and Chris Simms reveal their superlatives through the first week of NFL free agency, featuring the “Happy QB Award,” “Hustler Award” and “Head-Scratcher Award.”

Two years ago, the football world was Baker Mayfield’s oyster. Since then, his career has come down with a serious case of the crabs.

Through it all, the new Buccaneers quarterback has remained confident.

“To me, to be at the top of your game -- whatever industry you’re in -- you have to be wired internally to believe in yourself and sometimes trick yourself that nobody else believes in you,” Mayfield told reporters on Monday. “I enjoy looking at some of the greats in all sports and how they’ve prepared and that’s how you do it. You’ve got to believe in yourself. Unfortunately I was a late bloomer growing up, so I didn’t have a lot of recruiting coming out of high school, so that helped wire me a certain way to only have that self confidence. I’ve carried that on since and that’s the infectious part about me that I try to have my other teammates feel as well.”

He still feels that way even after an injury-riddled 2021 and a flat (for the most part) 2022.

“I’m still confident,” Mayfield said. “I wouldn’t say the last year really humbled me -- I learned a lot from it. I still believed in myself. I think that’s the only way I was able to get through it and finish on somewhat of a high note, playing for Los Angeles. I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve gone through and that’s what’s gotten me here. I’m ready for the next chapter.”

The next chapter could entail not beating out Kyle Trask for the starting job. Will Mayfield be able to handle that?

“Just take a look at last year,” Mayfield said. “I don’t really have much to say other than that. Everybody wants to talk about years ago, how I used to be. If you haven’t realized that I’ve changed a lot then that’s all right.”

He’s definitely changed over the past two years, as he has handled adversity.

“I’m definitely capable of withstanding a lot more than I thought,” Mayfield said. “And then just knowing that no matter what role I’m in, I have a lot to offer. Last year when I wasn’t starting in Carolina, how can I make our team better? Because this is the greatest team sport on earth. How can I help out? How can I make sure everybody is on the same page? How can I make sure that I’m using my experience or being another voice for the quarterback or the coaches, where we might not be relaying it correctly? There’s so many things I can possibly do -- even if I’m not playing -- I’m excited to do that here.”

Still, Mayfield has arrived in Tampa with the goal of winning the job. It may be his last and perhaps best chance to get a once-promising career back on track.