It has become painfully clear the Cleveland Browns no longer want anything to do with Baker Mayfield. According to a new report, the QB believes that has been the case stretching back to late last year.
ESPN’s Jake Trotter published a story Thursday, May 4, in which he quotes Browns general manager Andrew Berry admitting openly that the team began considering embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson, then a sidelined member of the Houston Texans, during the middle of last season as a potential solution under center moving forward. As part of his quote, Berry made reference to “a five-month saga” that included multiple injuries to Mayfield and the departure of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who forced his way out of Cleveland due, at least in part, to issues with Mayfield’s inability to accurately deliver him the football downfield.
Mayfield’s mistrust of the Browns, namely head coach Kevin Stefanski, became an issue as the Cleveland quarterback was dismantled by the Green Bay Packers defense on Christmas Day to the tune of four interceptions. Trotter cited multiple sources who said Mayfield had begun to lose faith in Stefanski’s strategies after losing that game, a defeat that made a second consecutive trip to the playoffs highly unlikely.
But it was the following week during a contest against the AFC North Division rival Pittsburgh Steelers that Mayfield’s trust issues with his head coach came to a head.
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Mayfield Questioned if Browns Coaches Were Trying to Make Him Look Bad Vs. Steelers
In Week 17 of the season, the Browns traveled to Pittsburgh for what now appears like the final chapter in Mayfield’s history with Cleveland.
Mayfield was sacked a total of nine times, including four by edge rusher T.J. Watt (later named NFL Defensive Player of the Year), in a 26-14 loss that helped Pittsburgh earn a playoff berth and likely marked Mayfield’s last time on an NFL field in a Browns’ uniform. Following the game, Mayfield openly questioned Stefanski.
“When you’ve got T.J. Watt over there, and we’re not giving our rookie tackle [James Hudson] a whole lot of help, it’s not going to be good for us,” Mayfield said.
Trotter noted that sources close to Mayfield later divulged that the quarterback wondered if the Browns coaching staff wasn’t trying to make him appear as inept as they could so as to ease the transition to a new signal caller in 2022 — which, as it turns out, Cleveland was already considering in Watson.
“According to multiple sources, those close to Mayfield — who to that point had missed one game because of his shoulder injury — wondered at the time if the Browns were trying to make Mayfield look as hapless as possible in prime time, to potentially pave the way for the franchise to more easily explain why it might be moving on from him in the offseason,” Trotter wrote.
Next Move For Mayfield Remains Unclear, as Teams Bow Out of Trade Talks
ESPN analyst Ryan Clark said Friday on NFL Live that there is no way Mayfield can walk back into the Browns locker room for training camp after all that has transpired this offseason, and that the last thing the Browns want is for him to be in uniform when official workouts begin. But getting rid of Mayfield by then is looking like a more and more precarious proposition, especially by way of a trade.
The Carolina Panthers bowed out of trade discussions for Mayfield when they selected Matt Corral out of Ole Miss in the third round of last weekend’s NFL Draft. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll essentially took his team out of the running Thursday during a radio interview with Sports Radio 93.3 KJR-FM in Seattle.
“I don’t see us making a trade for anybody at all. I don’t see that happening,” Carroll said. “But we’re certainly going to continue to be open to chances to help our club, and meanwhile we’re just going to be battling and competing our tails off. There’s always possibilities, so we keep open to that.”
Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said on the Tuesday, May 3 edition of The Rich Eisen Show that the New York Giants would make sense as a landing spot for Mayfield considering the long-time struggles of Daniel Jones. However, a trade would probably necessitate Cleveland paying most of Mayfield’s nearly $19 million guaranteed salary for 2022.
Most teams, however, are more likely to wait for the Browns to reach the tipping point with Mayfield and simply cut him, so they can swoop in and sign the quarterback without having to offer anything in a trade. In either case, NFL insider Ian Rapoport joined the Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday and said that there is not likely to be any movement on the Mayfield front until the month of May gives way to June.