The Cleveland Browns season was altered after Baker Mayfield tried to make a tackle on an interception in Week 2 against the Texans, suffering a significant injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
Mayfield suffered a torn labrum on the play as he got trucked by Texans safety Justin Reid. It only got worse as the season progressed, with a hit from Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt fracturing his humerus bone.
Reid has no regrets about injuring the Browns quarterback and had a message about the play on his Instagram after being called out for the play.
“Sorry, should have just let me score,” Reid put on his Instagram story with a shrugging emoji.
Mayfield simply doesn’t have the mentality to let a defender run untouched into the end zone on an interception but there’s an argument that if the fourth-year quarterback made a better “business decision” on the play that the year would have gone different. Cleveland was officially eliminated from the playoff race on Sunday.
Baker Mayfield Has Been Wearing Brace on Shoulder
A major issue stemming from the injury for Mayfield has been the fact that he has to wear a brace on his non-throwing shoulder, something that took some time to get used to. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt admitted this week that the brace has “handcuffed” Mayfield.
“It definitely shows. It has definitely handcuffed him a little bit with his ability to get that left side out of the way,” Van Pelt told reporters on Friday, December 31. “Hopefully, next year without the harness, you will see Baker back to normal with his normal throwing mechanics. It is definitely something that has hindered him. He has fought through. We have a lot of respect for the fact that he has battled through that, and we know he is injured. That is where I will leave that. Yeah, there are some things you can do to help him there. We have tried those, as well.”
Mayfield has regressed this season after leading the Browns to the postseason a year ago. He’s passed for 2,825 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s coming off a four-interception performance against the Packers that may go down as the worst game of his Browns tenure.
“I will be just fine,” Mayfield said this week when asked about his confidence. “I will be just fine. I am not worried about that.”
Browns Face Tough Offseason Evaluation of Mayfield
The Browns will have the tough task of evaluating Mayfield this offseason and weighing whether or not they see him as the long-term solution at quarterback in Cleveland. The stats are not in his favor.
He ranks 25th in QBR, has thrown the most fourth-quarter interceptions in the NFL and is 0-5 this season in potential fourth-quarter comebacks. Browns GM Andrew Berry gave a small vote of confidence to Mayfield during the bye week, also noting the team expected him to play his best football down the stretch. That hasn’t happened, with the Browns going 1-1 and Mayfield passing for just 412 yards with four touchdowns, five interceptions.
“I think we all know that Baker is incredibly physically tough. I think he has told you guys at moments in the year when he has been frustrated with his own performance,” Berry said. “That being said, he has had stretches this year where he has played well for us. Look, the reality of it is he has worked through injuries, no different than other players on our roster. I know what he expects of himself and what we expect of him whenever he is on the field to perform at a capable level and at a winning level. We expect him to play his best football down the stretch after the bye.”
So while the Browns are no longer in the hunt for a playoff spot, the final two weeks of the season will dictate quite a bit about the team’s future. The Browns executed Mayfield’s fifth-year option in the offseason, keeping him under contract for at least one more year. But beyond that, there’s much unknown about how they’ll deal with the former No. 1 overall pick.