Kevin Stefanski had an opportunity to put much of the drama to rest regarding the future of Baker Mayfield with the Cleveland Browns but his silence on a question is generating more questions.
It was reported by Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that the Browns are planning to run it back with Mayfield next season, letting him play out his fifth-year option and prove that he can be the franchise quarterback in Cleveland. However, when asked if Mayfield would be the starter next season, Stefanski refused to give clarity.
“Obviously, those type of meetings are between me and the players,” Stefanski said when asked if he and Mayfield discussed if he would be the starter in their preemptive exit meeting. “I think a lot of times those exit meetings are where they are, where their health is, where they are going, what we can do better and all of those type of things.”
Stefanski did note that the two ended on a positive note and there was no reason in particular for the early meeting.
“I have some meetings with all of the guys. I wanted to knock his out instead of waiting until Monday, just because you have a lot of guys I have to talk to and get through,” Stefanski said. “He is looking forward and I am looking forward for him to get the surgery, rest up, get healthy and all of those things.”
Mayfield, Stefanski Cleared Up Differences
Mayfield did not play in the Browns season-finale against the Bengals but still was in the headlines for most of the week. There was a report from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that cited tension between Mayfield and Stefanski, also noting that Mayfield could consider asking for a trade if he didn’t get assurance about the offense shifting more to his strengths.
The report that dropped on Sunday from Rapaport and Pelissero said that the two are on the same page and have confidence they can overcome their issues. Here’s what was said about their relationship:
While some communication issues lingered this season, and there was frustration with the on-field product, there is plenty of blame to go around. From game-plan issues to execution, it was all rocky. That’s what often happens when a team misses the playoffs.
The belief is the issues aren’t too great to overcome, and recent conversations have supported that. Sources say all sides will continue to work on the relationships moving forward.
Case Keenum Decent in Win Against Bengals
There was some clamoring this season for the Browns to start Case Keenum with Mayfield banged up, especially considering he’s one of the highest-paid backups in the league.
Against the Bengals, Keenum was good but definitely not great, turning the ball over twice — a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and an interception in the end zone that took away points before the half.
“I am mad at him for those turnovers – that stood out,” Stefanski joked in his postgame press conference. “You guys know Case. He knows the gameplan cold. He did a nice job in the huddle of getting the guys in and out. We unfortunately gave them two balls there and then came away without points. The turnover on downs, I will take that one. He ran the offense and did a nice job.”
Keenum completed 70 percent of his passes against the Bengals for 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns.