Baker Mayfield has reached a breaking point with the NFL over their testing protocols, with the Cleveland Browns quarterback unleashing in a series of tweets Thursday shortly after it was announced backup Case Keenum would join him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Mayfield tested positive earlier in the week and could be forced to sit out for the Browns’ crucial AFC matchup with the Raiders on Saturday. The team faces even longer odds now with Keenum out, relying on Nick Mullens at quarterback.
“NFL make up your damn mind on protocols,” Mayfield tweeted on Thursday. “Showing up and making only 3 teams test?!? All so you can keep the game as scheduled to make money.”
He continued: “Actually caring about player safety would mean delaying the game with this continuing at the rate it is…. But to say you won’t test vaccinated players if they don’t have symptoms, then to pull this randomly. Doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Mayfield wasn’t the only Browns player to speak up against the league. Safety Johnson Johnson III — who has also tested positive — also sounded off on social media.
“We’re really one bad sushi roll away from testing positive for COVID. S–t ain’t adding up,” Johnson tweeted. ”
The Browns were placed in enhanced COVID-19 protocols by the NFL, which makes them the target of more testing, per ESPN, which broke down the league’s new protocols.
Teams already in intensive protocols due to ongoing outbreaks will continue daily testing of all players and personnel — vaccinated or not — but the rest of the teams won’t be subject to daily testing.
Josina Anderson reported that her source within the Browns building doesn’t understand how the league expects the team to play so shorthanded.
“I really don’t know how we’re being asked to play this game Saturday. (Derek) Carr might eat us alive,” Anderson’s source told her.
Nick Mullens Gets the Call to Start
The situation is now dire for the Browns and they’ll have to do some work finding a backup quarterback with both Keenum and Mayfield likely out and Mullens getting the starting nod. Luckily, Mullens comes with NFL experience, having played quite a bit for the 49ers.
Mullens is in his fourth NFL season out of Southern Mississippi. Originally signed by San Francisco as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Mullens has appeared in 19 career games with 16 starts, completing 387 passes for 4,714 yards with 25 touchdowns. He has spent the 2021 season on the Browns’ practice squad and was active but did not play in the team’s Week 7 game.
“Nick is another guy who has played football in the NFL and has had success,” Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said on Wednesday, December 15. “I know he works hard in the film room and on the side at practice – stays out after practice and gets opportunities with the other guys. If something were to happen and we needed Nick to show up, I have confidence in him, as well. I know he has put the work in, and he has had success in the league, as well.”
On the defensive front, safeties Ronnie Harrison and Grant Delpit were the big additions announced on Thursday, essentially wiping out the position for the Browns.
TE David Njoku Officially Makes Return
While most of the news has been bad, there was a sprinkle of good news, with Browns tight end David Njoku returning from his stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
“It was frustrating not being able to go out there with my teammates and my brothers. It is a sense of [being] powerless, but luckily, we got the job done last week, and we expect to get the job done again this weekend,” Njoku told reporters.
It’s unknown what the league will do going forward with the Browns, with nearly half the roster now in quarantine, including head coach Kevin Stefanski. As of now, the league has not hinted about any postponement coming.