NFL insider Jordan Schultz joined the Pat McAfee Show this week and revealed that Mayfield’s reputation may be keeping teams from making a deal.
“It progressively has got to this point. Two years ago he had a really good season and he was healthy,” Schultz said. “Then last season everything went into the dump. He cratered. The offensive line didn’t necessarily protect him, he had the shoulder problems and played through it. It was a nightmare.
“Bigger than that, fellas, is the lack of leadership on his part. Talking to players, coaches and GMs, “There is a sense around the league that Baker Mayfield is still a really immature guy and even if he’s healthy, do you really want to deal with that in your locker room. He has not been the leader of the locker room since Day 1. He’s never been able to get to that point.”
Mayfield’s Locker Room Leadership Has Been Tested
Mayfield had a few tough situations in Cleveland within the locker room. When he was a second-year player, Mayfield criticized running back Duke Johnson Jr. for a trade request, which didn’t sit well with some veterans, per reports.
Things spiraled out of control last season, with the Odell Beckham Jr. drama splitting up the locker room and Mayfield appearing to criticize the coaching staff after being sacked nine times in what was his season finale. ESPN’s Jake Trotter characterized the situation with OBJ as “poisoning the well” for Mayfield, leading in part to his current predicament.
Despite the criticism, Schultz thinks Mayfield can turn it around in the right situation, but he’ll need to prove himself to earn a long-term deal.
“In his mid-20s, there’s still an argument to be made he’s a talented guy and could still be a really good NFL player. You can win with Baker if he’s solid like he was two years ago. But the distraction point is a pain in the ass to deal with, especially if you’re thinking about extending a guy and giving him $100 million.”
Mayfield’s Teammates Came to Defense During Minicamp
Mayfield hasn’t received a ton of support during the ongoing drama but Joel Bitonio — the longest-tenured member of the Browns and a leader in the locker room — voiced some support for his former QB during minicamp.
“Baker is my guy. I still remember the Thursday night Jets game when he came in and helped lead us to victory. It was honestly one of the more special moments of my career because it had been so long since we won games,” Bitonio told reporters on Wednesday, June 15. “He’s a tough guy and he plays hard. He played his heart out for us and I’ll always respect that. He’s still a friend of mine and we text occasionally. I think, like everyone else, he’s waiting it out to see where he’s going. Baker did a lot for this franchise. He won a lot of games and was a great player for us.”
Currently, the Seahawks and Panthers are weighing trades for Mayfield, with a deal looking imminent with training camp approaching.