Baker Mayfield has fired back over a report that he would demand a trade unless promises were made that the Cleveland Browns offense would shift to play more to his strengths.
The initial report from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com set social media ablaze, citing tension between head coach Kevin Stefanski — also the offensive play-caller — and Mayfield. Here’s what Cabot reported:
Mayfield’s issues with Stefanski bubbled below the surface most of the season, with Mayfield feeling like Stefanski’s playcalling didn’t always put him in position to succeed or play to his strengths, sources told cleveland.com.
If Mayfield doesn’t get reassurance that things will change next season, he’ll consider asking to be traded. He’s under contract for $18.858 million in his fifth-year option year, but at this point, it’s uncertain if the Browns even view him as their starter for 2022.
Mayfield responded, calling the report clickbait and accusing Cabot and other local media of stirring up drama.
“Clickbait. You and many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts,” Mayfield tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Don’t put words in my mouth so you can put food on your table. I’m not your puppet.”
There’s a chance that we don’t hear from Mayfield in a press conference setting until next season. He won’t play in the team’s finale on Sunday against the Bengals and will be getting surgery on his injured shoulder on January 15 in Los Angeles.
Browns Dispute Report of Tension as Well
Mayfield wasn’t the only member of the Browns to fire back over the report. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who worked closely with both Mayfield and Stefanski during the year, said that there was “absolutely not” an issue between the two.
“I have seen zero of that. Kevin is in our meetings every day. He comes in, and we talk through everything that was installed every day,” Van Pelt told reporters on Thursday, January 6. “I know the line of communication is wide open between those two guys. I know they have met weekly on Tuesdays to make sure everything was good. I do not feel that at all. I do not. Kevin has always been open and very communicative with all of the players and coaches, as well.”
As others have of late, Van Pelt also showered Mayfield with praise for how he battled through injuries in an attempt to lead his team to victory
“I have been around some tough guys, but he is up at the top of the list with the stuff he endured and went through this year,” Van Pelt said of Mayfield. “I appreciate his efforts. I know he wanted to be there for his teammates, but at some point, you have to make the decision that in this situation his health is most concerning to keep him healthy and get him right for the offseason for next year.”
Future Uncertain for Mayfield in Cleveland
The Browns have a decision to make on Mayfield and if he’s the long-term answer for the franchise. Mayfield played injured for the majority of the season, which the Browns will take into consideration in their evaluation of his season.
With that being said, he finished towards the bottom in most major passing categories. He’s 27th with an 83.1 QB rating, completing just 60.5 percent of his attempts for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Mayfield also failed to come through in clutch situations, going 0-5 this season on potential game-winning drives.
Mayfield is under contract for next season thanks to the team picking up his fifth-year option, which is worth nearly $19 million. They could decide to trade him and opt for a veteran quarterback or simply let him play it out and prove that his down year was due to being banged up.
Mayfield should gear up for more rampant rumors because it’s going to be an interesting offseason in Cleveland.