There are questions about Baker Mayfield’s future as the starter with the Cleveland Browns, although the former top pick appears to have the full support of his head coach.
Kevin Stefanski gave a ringing endorsement of Mayfield while speaking to the media on Monday, January 10, giving an optimistic view on his future.
“I think about it in terms of our entire team. We were inconsistent at times. We just have to string better play together both as a team and individually,” Stefanski said. “I have seen Baker play at a very high level. I am confident he will get this surgery and he is going to work real hard this offseason to bounce back.”
Mayfield hobbled to the finish line of the season, passing for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. With the playoffs out of reach, he sat out the team’s finale against the Bengals. Mayfield was sacked nine times in what ended up being his final game — a 26-14 loss to the Steelers.
Stefanski: Offseason Paramount to Mayfield’s Improvement
With four seasons under his belt, it’s still hard to get the complete picture on Mayfield. This season was the first time in his career he had the same offensive system for back-to-back years, and that was marred by multiple injuries, most notably to his non-throwing shoulder.
Mayfield is scheduled to have surgery on the shoulder on January 19 in Los Angeles. He is expected to be ready to roll by the time organized team practice activities begin in May. While Mayfield may not be able to do anything physically for a chunk of the entire offseason, the Browns still plan to give him a plan to improve after his down year.
“For Baker and for all of our players, we are going outline ways that we feel they can improve and give them improvement plans when we get our hands back on them. Having those offseasons together are important for all of these guys,” Stefanski said. “Just sitting here and go down a bunch of things that he needs to improve, it is just all of us – I would put all of us in that boat where you sit here and you are where we are, it is a full team effort of getting better.”
Stefanski Had No Regrets About Playing Mayfield
The Browns stumbled to an 8-9 finish, unable to pull off crucial wins down the stretch as Mayfield struggled. He tossed six touchdowns and seven interceptions and didn’t look close to 100 percent, leading many critics to question why he was even in the game.
“Baker fought through those injuries, was medically cleared to play each of those weeks, practiced throughout those weeks and felt good,” Stefanski said. “You guys have spoken to Baker, and I do not think Baker is using any of that as an excuse, and also, not denying that guys play through injuries. He pushed through it. Again, I know there are plays and moments that he is going to want back. That is part of playing football, playing the quarterback position and trying to get better.”
The Browns are expected to move forward with Mayfield next season on the fifth and final year of his contract, giving him one more chance to prove he can be the quarterback of the future in Cleveland.