Baker Mayfield Facing Potential Browns-Era Reunion

Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield may reunite with his former Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

Getty Images Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield may reunite with his former Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield may have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator next year.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are among the teams who have interviewed former Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who was surprisingly let go by Cleveland at the end of the season.

Van Pelt interviewed for the job on Monday, January 30 and the Bucs have yet to decide on the hire. Dave Canales served as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator last season but left to take a head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers.

Van Pelt is an intriguing prospect for the Bucs, who are expected to bring back Mayfield as their quarterback next season. He coached Mayfield — the former No. 1 overall pick — for a pair of seasons in Cleveland. That included a stellar 2020 campaign where Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Van Pelt came aboard with Kevin Stefanski in 2020, serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. But it wasn’t the typical setup for Van Pelt, who did not call the plays. That was the duty of Stefanski, who assumed the play-calling role upon arriving.

Baker Mayfield, Bucs Coming off Expectation-Defying Season

Alex Van Pelt and Baker Mayfield worked together with the Browns.

Getty ImagesAlex Van Pelt and Baker Mayfield worked together with the Browns.

Van Pelt was very complimentary of Mayfield upon being hired by the Browns.

“Playing against him for the last two years [with the Bengals], you see the type of competitor he is,’’ Van Pelt said in 2020. “The type of player he is on the field, loves the game, plays it with passion, those are all the things you’re looking for in a great player.’’

Things went south for Mayfield in Cleveland as he battled through a shoulder injury during the 2021 season. Deshaun Watson was acquired via trade during the 2022 offseason and Mayfield was sent to the Panthers. Van Pelt may get a season chance with a healthy Mayfield to help guide what has been a career resurgence in Tampa Bay.

Mayfield and the Bucs defied expectations this season, winning the NFC South and a Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The former top pick of the Browns shined, passing for 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Mayfield posted a quarterback rating of 94.6.

Mayfield will be a free agent and is not locked in as the Bucs starter next season just yet. However, it seems fairly certain that the team will give him another look, potentially on the franchise tag or a long-term deal.

“I love this group,” Mayfield said after the loss to the Lions on January 21. “I said that all year. And it’s authentic. I mean that. It would mean a lot for me, to bring back a lot of key pieces, to get this back together, to get it to Year 2 in the system, you can make huge strides. I would love that.”

Browns Hire Ken Dorsey to Replace Alex Van Pelt

Ken Dorsey is the new offensive coordinator for the Browns.

Getty ImagesKen Dorsey is the new offensive coordinator for the Browns.

The Browns replaced Van Pelt with former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. The move was reported on Sunday during the AFC Championship game.

Dorsey — a former Browns QB himself — is known for his work with quarterbacks Cam Newton and Josh Allen. Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of believes it was a big plus for Dorsey as the team evaluated candidates.

“[Deorsey’s] experience working with dual-threat quarterbacks such as Allen and former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was also a huge plus. Deshaun Watson admires Allen’s game, and is very close with Newton,” Cabot reported on January 29.

The Browns are hoping to get a full, Pro Bowl-type season out of Watson. He’s played in just 12 games since arriving via a blockbuster trade. The Browns gave up three first-round picks and handed Watson a $230 million fully guaranteed contract. He’s let to live up to that during his time in Cleveland.

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