Baker Mayfield is Andrew Berry’s pick to lead the Cleveland Browns, for now.
Andrew Berry made it clear that Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback heading into 2022 for the Cleveland Browns. That’s the right call. So is not offering him a deal this offseason. I’ve made it very clear that I think Mayfield can in fact be the team’s quarterback on a playoff run. He’s shown to have the ability to make big throws, but his injury this year has damaged his reputation. I for one am not falling for that argument, as we’ve seen what a peak-Mayfield can look like. That said, there are some concerns about him that I think are fair to discuss.
Firstly, how does he heal from his off-season shoulder surgery? It’s supposed to be a routine operation but injuries are not always so easy to fix. If the pain returns, if the shoulder isn’t fully healed or it just doesn’t heal as it should, Mayfield’s accuracy will continue to be off.
Secondly, his fit in Kevin Stefanski’s offense. It’s a slow beast with not a lot of reliable speed at the moment. The Browns need to invest in some real speedsters to open up the offense and allow Mayfield to throw deep more often. Will they?
Will Stefanski actually do that more often next year? Granted, you could argue he held back this year because his best big-play options; Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz, were as reliable as a two-legged bar stool. That’d be fair. What if Stefanski just hates throwing deep due to “analytics”, however? Then Mayfield would be out of luck in this system.
Thirdly, Mayfield’s attitude. He certainly did start to unravel a bit near the end of the year. I don’t have a problem with anyone addressing issues with a team in a public forum. So Mayfield’s public complaints about the play-calling aren’t an issue with me. I do have a problem with him attacking Mary Kay Cabot.
Now, like her or not, she has the respect of the entire city’s media; both pro and anti-Mayfield alike. There’s a reason for that. You don’t hear people defending Tony Rizzo or Aaron Goldhammer for obvious reasons, yet people defend Cabot because they know she doesn’t make stuff up. To see Mayfield attack her knowing full well the only way she could defender herself was to name names and thereby ruin her career was a cheap and dirty move on his part. Attacking reporters who are being fair in their criticism and judgment is a weak move by a leader.
It’s even more messed up when you realize Kevin Stefanski fed into the rumors with his whole “no comment” nonsense when he was asked if he wanted to stick with Mayfield in 2022. Seems like if they were on the same page, he would’ve said he was. After all, Berry gave the media an honest answer.
Why won’t Stefanski? Don’t blame Cabot when Stefanski is the one feeding these rumors.
Baker Mayfield has every chance to earn his new deal with the Cleveland Browns
Mayfield had a rough year, his accuracy was off and he’s looking at several months of little-to-no football activity as he recovers from surgery on his shoulder. He’s got four-plus months to heal before expected to do anything and with Berry endorsing him as the starter for next season, even after Stefanski didn’t, we should all at least feel some sort of expectation for who’s under center in 2022.
Mayfield will have every opportunity to prove he can play at an elite level. He’s not a $40 million player, he’ll never be, and if we’re being honest, there’s no player in the NFL who is. Mayfield can still prove himself to be a franchise guy. We know when he’s healthy that he’s better than the Jared Goff, Carson Wentz types, and going to get a guy like Russell Wilson would destroy the team’s salary cap.
So Mayfield is the best option for 2022. Is he the best option for 2023? That’s up for Mayfield to prove to those that cut his checks. If he has a repeat performance in 2022, as he did in 2021 or 2019, then it will be near impossible to justify bringing him back.