A long time ago, Baker Mayfield (in)famously planted his – er, Oklahoma flag – in Ohio. However, after four years with the Cleveland Browns, the quarterback is desperate to break out of Buckeye State.
But shouldn’t he be trying to rebuild the Cuyahoga River Bridge for the organization that selected him as the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 despite napalming him as soon as he found out the Browns were (eventually successfully) chasing Deshawn? Watson in March?
For better (perhaps far in the future) or worse (right now), Watson is the new face of the franchise in Cleveland, and Mayfield knew he was stripped of that honorary title the moment the Browns began wooing the disgraced but exceptionally gifted troika. professional bowler. With his pride hurt, Mayfield lashed out and tried to trade with the Indianapolis Colts, a team that instead dealt with Matt Ryan after his extremely professional (read: quiet) response when his 14-year-old employer, the Atlanta Falcons, , also did play for Watson.
As July 4 approaches, with so many NFL musical quarterbacks filled out, there appears to be little demand for Mayfield’s services. Teams (Carolina Panthers? Seattle Seahawks?) that could use a pool of opportunities under center from the guy who almost led Cleveland to the 2020 AFC Championship game are definitely not interested in getting a fully guaranteed $18.9 million contract that expires in nine. months, especially when so many attractive and cost-effective weapons are expected to be available in the 2023 project.
Training camp could bring a catastrophic injury to a quarterback or a performance by one of the other NFL teams, but for now, the chips seem to be down.
WHAT TO KNOW: Deshawn Watson’s NFL career is on the line
The NFL is in the process of defining discipline for Watson, who was sued by 24 women for sexual harassment during massage sessions in 2020 and 2021 while a member of the Houston Texans. Twenty of these lawsuits were recently settled in private. However, the guy with a fully guaranteed $230 million contract for the next five seasons may well be suspended for (at least) the entire 2022 campaign.
Meanwhile, Mayfield was not drafted in either the March or April draft as he was released from the off-season despite remaining under contract with the Browns for one more season. ESPN said he “has no intention” of playing for Cleveland again, a feeling the organization appears to share.
“I think it was pretty obvious that both sides decided to move on. I’m grateful for the four years I spent in Cleveland.” Mayfield said on Tuesday from his youth football camp in Oklahoma when asked about his future at the club.
“We’re ready to move on, I think, on both sides.”
Asked about the possibility of a reunion with the Browns, Mayfield replied: “I think it’s going to take a helping hand to make it happen.”
Mayfield should lend a hand. Or Browns general manager Andrew Berry. Or coach Kevin Stefansky. But first of all, Mayfield.
Yes, he’s a lame duck, albeit a well-paid one, whether he takes another shot in Cleveland or not. But he also needs to shake himself up and forget about his feelings – not only for himself, but also for the sake of the team.
Mayfield is 30-31 with 96 TD assists and 57 steals in four NFL seasons, which is pretty remarkable considering the Browns were 4-44 in the three years prior to his arrival in 2018, and also considering he was waylaid in 2021. due to knee and shoulder injuries. and fought them, to his credit and probably to his detriment. He has shown he can compete and win with a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002.
Cleveland, who still has a strong roster, almost certainly represents his best chance to win and showcase himself to potential suitors in 2023. Are the apathetic Panthers or the Seahawks after Russell Wilson going to provide such an opportunity? Mayfield has proven he can thrive in the NFL’s ‘Sorrow Factory’, and if he does it again by putting down a chip that’s been on his shoulder since he left for Texas Tech in 2013, it could convince other teams. that he is also capable of growing up. into a Ryan-style pro, worthy of a decent contract and a second chance at QB1.
As for the Browns?
They have already disenfranchised legions of women, not to mention their fans, by acquiring Watson. One of four NFL clubs that never made it to the Super Bowl, they have set themselves up for an incredible ton of criticism that has nothing to do with their historical ineptitude on the field.
But why throw away another season if Watson is unavailable? Yes, veteran backup Jacoby Brissett was signed to QB Plan B. But he has a 14-23 career record despite playing for talent teams in New England, Indianapolis and Miami, and has never made the playoffs. off. Journeyman Joshua Dobbs is currently the only passer on the Cleveland roster.
Can’t Mayfield and the Browns put the past behind them – at least temporarily – given the potential benefits of a reconciliation for a team that otherwise has what it takes to be a contender, even in a folded AFC?
A potential win-win scenario should be pretty enticing for Mayfield and the Browns at this stage, given how badly each side can use the W.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter. @ByNateDavis.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Baker Mayfield and Browns win if they can reconcile by 2022