The Cleveland Browns added a bevy of big names to the roster this offseason, but the team’s success will ultimately be dictated by second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield.
After a lights out rookie season, the former No. 1 overall pick is entering his sophomore campaign with heaps of expectations, being looked at as an MVP candidate by some and bringing hope to a faithful fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about this millennia.
Last season, Mayfield supplanted Tyrod Taylor as the starter in Week 3 against the Jets, and threw for 3,725 yards and had 27 touchdowns, breaking the record for touchdown passes by a rookie QB.
Adding to the degree of difficulty was that Mayfield used just 13.5 games to do it. Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning — who previously shared the record — started all 16 games their rookie seasons.
Most importantly, however, Mayfield helped make the Browns relevant again, leading the team to a 7-8-1 record a year after a winless 0-16 campaign.
Mayfield earned more recognition in a piece published by Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier on Tuesday. The Browns’ star came in at No. 2 on the list, lumped in with the other “Super Sophomore Quarterbacks” Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson.
Baker Mayfield, now paired with Odell Beckham on a Browns team with actual expectations, must build upon his exceptional rookie season—and prove he can tune out the distractions and tone down the Twitter beefs,” Tanier wrote.
Tanier explained that the list included players “with a whole lot riding on them — money, draft capital, expectations and pressure, etc.— who have the potential to propel their teams to the next level if they come through.”
Baker Mayfield’s Off-Field Antics with Cleveland Browns
Tanier is right — Mayfield has been in his share of drama off the field this offseason, premier among the issues being his harsh words for running back Duke Johnson Jr., who requested a trade from the Browns this offseason.
Mayfield was asked about Johnson’s request at minicamp and if it put the veteran back in an awkward spot in the locker room.
“It’s not awkward. It’s self-inflicted,” Mayfield said. “I hope he does his job … Obviously, he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not. It’s moving. You can get out of the way or you can join us. So it is what it is … You got guys in our locker room that are dying to get playing time and dying to be here. Duke has been here for years but it’s about what are you doing right now.”
He’s also beefed with the University of Texas — his former rival school during his time at Oklahoma — and Longhorns’ QB, Sam Ehlinger.
“They said the same thing when they beat Notre Dame a couple of years ago, and they won like three games after that,” Mayfield said. “I’m sick of that crap … That will stir the pot. He doesn’t like me, and I hope he knows I don’t like him either.”
Mayfield keeps things interesting that’s for sure. But the swagger he carries off the field doesn’t seem to bother his teammates one bit, especially Beckham.
“I think it’s the confidence he carries himself with,” Beckham said. “You can’t coach that. You have to love that about him.”
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