Panthers GM Calls Out Browns For Misjudging Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield

Getty Images Quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns had four years with Baker Mayfield, but the quarterback’s new boss doesn’t believe his former team knew enough at the end to accurately judge him.

Mayfield and Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer both spoke to the media on Tuesday, July 12. It was the first time either has offered public comments since Fitterer executed a trade for the quarterback six days before.

There were several reasons Cleveland chose to move on from Mayfield, from allegations of childishness and immaturity in the locker room to a growing rift with head coach Kevin Stefanski to inconsistent and poor play down the stretch of the 2021 regular season. That three-time Pro Bowler Deshaun Watson became available via trade in March probably topped the list of all of those reasons.

But Fitterer’s take Tuesday was that injuries were the culprit behind Mayfield’s struggles last season, not any personality problems or insurmountable talent deficiencies to which some members of the Browns’ front office have alluded to behind the scenes in recent months.

“It wasn’t just the shoulder injury, the left shoulder, he also had a foot injury, a rib injury,” Fitterer said of Mayfield Tuesday. “He was really good in 2020. He had some good tape early in his career. Last year was just a down year for him.”

“Baker is really confident coming in now,” Fitterer continued, “and I think we’re getting the best version of him going forward.”

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Mayfield Could Start Against Browns in Week 1 of New NFL Season

Baker Mayfield

Baker MayfieldFormer Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is now a member of the Carolina Panthers. The two teams will meet in Week 1 of the 2022 regular season. 

The Browns open the regular season against the Panthers in Carolina Week 1, which means Cleveland’s first game without Mayfield on the roster will likely be played against him.

However, Fitterer added that while his team gave up a conditional fifth-round draft selection and picked up $5 million of Mayfield’s guaranteed salary in 2022 to make the deal, the quarterback will still have to compete with incumbent signal caller Sam Darnold for the starting job.

“This is an open competition,” Fitterer said. “The reason why we added Baker is to make the group better as a whole.”

Mayfield also offered some thoughts Tuesday on the potential of starting his first game with a new team against the Browns.

“I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you that’s not one I’ve marked on the calendar already,” Mayfield said. “One, that’s not who I am. To me, it’s about winning games. Whoever we have marked on the schedule, I’m going to try to win. Obviously, this one has a little more history and personal meaning but for me, it’s about winning and setting the tone for the rest of the year.”

Mayfield Said Browns’ Choice to Move on Was ‘Unexpected’

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

GettyQuarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during Browns OTAs at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on May 25, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Mayfield also acknowledged Tuesday that he was “shocked” when the Browns acquired Watson, elaborating on what that experience has been like for him since.

“I think that’s why it was surprising for everybody — pretty unexpected,” Mayfield said. “But if I’m focused on the past, then I’m not focused on my job being a Carolina Panther now. So like I said, I’m grateful for my time [in Cleveland]. But yeah, shocked is pretty much the only way to describe it.”

Mayfield also addressed why he was willing to transfer approximately $3.5 million of his nearly $19 million base salary into incentives to make the trade between the Browns and the Panthers happen.

“For me it was just about the next steps forward and finding a new place, somewhere that wanted me, somewhere that I would be able to go in and compete and have a fresh start somewhere,” Mayfield said. “That’s where it all came from.”

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