When Baker Mayfield sees Cleveland Browns star Nick Chubb on Sunday ahead of their Week 1 matchup, he has just one request of the stoic running back.
Mayfield just wants a hug — and maybe a few words from his old pal.
“A big hug from Nicholas Chubb would be a really, really good gift. Just to hear him say a word would also be nice,” Mayfield told reporters on September 7.
Chubb and Mayfield came up together in the Browns organization. Mayfield was the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, with Chubb being selected a round later to help bolster the backfield. The duo helped guide the Browns back to the postseason in 2020, even pulling off a Wild Card victory against the Steelers that was the first for the franchise in more than a quarter-century.
The two have gone in different directions since. Chubb has established himself as one of the best backs in the NFL, earning a long-term deal in Cleveland. The Browns decided to move on from Mayfield this offseason, trading for Deshaun Watson and sending the former top pick to the Panthers.
Chubb on Mayfield: ‘I Don’t Know What to Expect’
It’s been a rough run for the former Browns signal-caller but Chubb praised Mayfield amid the trade drama this offseason, giving him a public show of support.
“He’ll still always be one of my best friends. He’s a great guy,” Chubb said in May before Mayfield was traded to Carolina. “I know with his intensity and his attitude, wherever he lands, he’ll be ready.”
As for Chubb’s perspective on the matchup, he knows Mayfield might have something up his sleeve.
“We all know Baker, so I don’t know what to expect,” Chubb told reporters on Wednesday.
Mayfield Plays Down Shirts That Take Dig at Browns
Mayfield knows how to stir the pot and did so with some limited edition shirts that featured the statement, “Off the leash.” Many took that as a shot, with it being well-documented that Mayfield did not great about his role and fit in the Browns’ offense. He also had a tenuous relationship with head coach Kevin Stefanski, who was also the offensive play-caller.
After the Browns were thrashed by the Patriots 45-7 last season, Stefanski missed a meeting with Mayfield, with the Browns skipper instead tending to a pressing situation with Myles Garrett, who took a very public shot at the coaching staff for a lack of adjustments.
“In one of those ‘careful what you wish for’ moments, Stefanski never missed another meeting and privately shined a glaring spotlight on his quarterback during film sessions from that day forward,” The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd wrote this offseason.
As for the shirts, Mayfield says the slogans weren’t his idea but he enjoyed them, nonetheless.
“Oh, man, I wish I could say I came up with the T-shirts,” Mayfield said. “Got a good team behind me and they put a few little hidden messages of like just my history, subliminal stuff in there. They do a good job and I just think people back home and people that have been following me for a long time like it. It’s just a fun thing to do.
“I didn’t have any say in it. You know, I don’t get paid to make T-shirts. I get paid to play football and have fun with my buddies. So that’s what I’m doing.”
Mayfield and the Panthers are a slight 1.5-point favorite as they host the Browns on Sunday.