Development is the important thing for the Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback rather than how he is viewed on the depth chart.
When the games begin, there will be a depth chart with Baker Mayfield’s name listed somewhere on it. However, regardless of where he is listed does not mean the Cleveland Browns have to abide by that.
Yesterday, Hue Jackson answered questions about his team.
Naturally, some of them focused on quarterback, where he provided this nugget of information via Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich:
Thinking that Mayfield would be ready and surpass Tyrod Taylor as the starter already would be silly. In fact, even with all the development, Mayfield could acquire each week this season won’t be enough to realistically replace Taylor. Having Mayfield sit and watch for at least a year is the best for all involved.
That said, knowing that Mayfield is not starting, why not just label Mayfield’s status as either the second or third string with the end result being to be determined? On the other hand, Jackson’s statement makes sense. That is, of course, he sticks to the plan at hand and does not swap Mayfield in at the first sign of Taylor struggling.
By being the third-stringer, Mayfield gets to watch and learn without risking the chance of having to play. Plus, by being third on the depth chart, Cleveland could allow Mayfield’s spot on the gameday roster to go to someone else should they only dress two quarterbacks. In his place, veteran Drew Stanton would be the backup.
Doing so, Jackson could still see Mayfield develop as the third-stringer. As the top pick in the draft though, that is not likely going to happen. As the second-string, Mayfield would be the assumed replacement should Taylor get hurt/struggle. However, he would also then get playing time in 2018 — something Cleveland prefers to not see happen.
Cleveland wants Mayfield under center when the time is right but that time is nowhere close to now. If Cleveland keeps all three quarterbacks active on Sundays, the intrigue may be there from those outside the Browns facility in no time. Furthermore, there is no rule preventing them from listing Mayfield as the third quarterback but going to him as the first replacement in a game if needed.
So, Mayfield’s status at the start of training camp, preseason, and the regular season does not matter. Was Jackson expected to say something else? No, he is focusing on Taylor starting while getting Mayfield ready for the future beyond this season.
Besides, it would not matter since Mayfield is not the starter, the number next to him is all that is. Mayfield has a lot of work in front of him. Cleveland is taking the right approach to his rookie campaign. Being that the focus is his development, that is most important.
Until Jackson has to put a number by his name, this topic is being blown out of proportion. Once Jackson does and we see Mayfield in preseason games, then there will be a better understanding of how true the No. 2 or No. 3 on the depth chart is associated with Mayfield for this fall.