I am posting this comic Monday night, so there’s a decent chance Baker has a team by the time you read this Wednesday morning. I can never accurately plan for how the news flows. With both the 49ers and Ravens possibly needing a short-term starter, I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up at either.

But let’s talk about Baker for a bit regardless of where he ends up or already ended up. This is a pretty big fall for the guy who briefly seemed like he might have finally been the guy the Browns were looking for all along.

Baker was a surprising late surge in the 2018 NFL draft. For most of that draft cycle, Baker seemed like the #3 or #4 option. Despite Baker being the Heisman trophy winner, Darnold was seen as the top QB prospect, with Josh Rosen as his main competitor. Allen was all over the place, and Lamar was unfairly overlooked. But seemingly out of the blue with little time left Mayfield was suddenly the guy in all the rumors and sure enough, the Browns picked him. We know the rest. Darnold busted out hard. Rosen ended up one of the worst prospects in a decade. Allen went to a good spot and developed into a star. Lamar immediately made an impact. Mayfield was the oddball of the crew, a player that seemed to neither bust nor boom.

He had a brash, bold, dickish attitude, which tends to endear you to a fanbase (if you are good) or make you public enemy number 1 (if you are bad). Mayfield got stuck on the “Process” Browns but quickly turned them around and played great his rookie year after Hue Jackson finally had nobody left to throw under the bus coming straight for him. Then the Browns made a terrible mistake and wasted the next year of Baker’s life by making him play for Freddie Kitchens, head coach. His second year in a new system did not work well. The Browns course corrected and seemed to make a good decision: Kevin Stefanski. The Browns took off.

Looking back it’s hard to not realize that Browns team was stacked and all Baker really had to do was not fuck up during the very weird COVID year. For the most part, he didn’t, and the Browns did the unthinkable: they won a playoff football game. But Baker finally looked to have a steady foundation under him and presumably things could improve from here. I retired the Hydra. The Browns were finally doing it. They were becoming respectable. Those devious gaslighters got us.

2021 was a disaster and I think the season permanently broke Baker. He looked bad, especially when OBJ drama caused a fuss and the team tore in two. After Beckham left, the Baker apologists ran out of excuses for his poor play until it was revealed Baker had a torn labrum. The entire season felt like a missed opportunity full of drama and we hadn’t even hit the real drama yet. Out of nowhere, the Browns shell out for the Rapist, and Baker is left in limbo. While Baker was indeed playing badly at the time, and arguments could be made the team should consider moving on and that Watson was unquestionably an upgrade, this was still a huge slap in the face to the organization Baker had gleefully served. He got done dirty, and I don’t blame him at all for forcing his way out.

I had hope for him on the Panthers. Not a lot, but if Baker could stay healthy maybe he could at least keep the job. The Panthers, however, were not a great team to bounce back on. The Rhule experiment was a failure and the team rotated between Baker, fellow cast-off Sam Darnold, and XFL legend PJ Walker. Walker ended up being the best of the bunch. Baker asked to be released and on Monday the team obliged. So now here we are.

Is Baker toast? I like to hope not and I always want to see guys succeed if they aren’t a rapist or named Tom Brady. Hate Baker’s attitude if you want, he seems like a douche, but he was also stuck in a mess for most of his career thus far and in his most stable year, won a playoff game. Daniel Jones, who he once publicly criticized, has an argument that he’s had a more stable situation in his career over Baker. At this point, Baker feels like a guy headed for a long career as a backup if he manages to stay healthy. Maybe he and Josh Rosen can get together over dinner and reminisce about when people thought they’d be good. Sam Darnold can join as soon as he’s cut too.