The Cleveland Browns may be able to repair the damage with Baker Mayfield but they’ll need to be the ones doing the graveling.
On the day when one Cleveland Browns quarterback was having his case reviewed by an independent arbiter pertaining to allegations against him ranging from sexual misconduct to sexual assault, another quarterback was hosting a youth football camp in Norman, Oklahoma. The juxtaposition between Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield is stark, and damning, considering the Browns wanted “an adult in the room”, and now they’re stuck with Watson.
Watson is facing a long suspension of possibly multiple seasons. It’s left the Browns in a bit of a conundrum. Jacoby Brissett is their backup right now, and for a start or two, he’s perfectly adequate. Yet, for a full season or more? That’s where things get dicey.
For the longest time, many, myself included said that moving on from Mayfield and Watson is the only way forward, but now Mayfield is doing the ol’ Lee Coros “NOT SO FAST, MY FRIENDS” approach to the game.
During interviews at the youth camp he was hosting, Mayfield made it clear that while he’s ready to move on, you never say never in this sport. According to Carey Murdock and Eddie Radosevich of Sooner Scope, Mayfield made it clear that if there was to be a reconciliation, it would have to be the Browns making the first move;
"I think for that to happen, there would have to be some reaching out, but we’re ready to move on, I think, on both sides.…I think it’s pretty obvious the mutual decision on both sides is to move on. I’m thankful for my four years in Cleveland …I’m thankful for it. There’s no resentment toward the city of Cleveland by any means."
Mayfield made it clear that he’s ready to move on but the Browns haven’t pulled the trigger yet on a trade for one reason or another. For the longest time, we thought it was because no one wanted to deal with the asking price. Now, however, there appears to be a glimmer, just a glimmer of hope that Mayfield returns to the team for the final year of his contract.
Though not likely.
Where’s the best spot for Baker Mayfield to play in 2022?
That’s the question, isn’t it? The Cleveland Browns have re-tooled their playbook or the Browns would be the best option. They have a team in place, the guys like Mayfield, especially Nick Chubb who could have been an MVP candidate in 2022 had they not shifted focus. Wyatt Teller, Joel Bitonio, and others have spoken highly of Mayfield in recent months. He has supporters in that locker room.
The problem is, it’s no longer an RPO offense and that was Mayfield’s biggest strength. So then we look at Seattle and Carolina. Carolina has his long-time “frenemy” Rashard Higgins and a superstar playmaker in Christian McCaffery (if he’s healthy). Seattle has arguably the best receiver Mayfield would have ever played with in DK Metcalf and a head coach with the ability to unlock a quarterback’s potential, but a team devoid of any real playoff talent just yet. Same with the Panthers.
The NFL will have a host of other teams looking for quarterbacks come next year, and it may not be in Mayfield’s best interest to go to Seattle and sign a new deal or spend one year in Carolina just to move on. The best bet may be for him to just ride out the season and go into 2023 a free agent.
Yet, of the three scenarios, the Seahawks make the most sense. They have franchise stability, trust in their coaches, and some solid pieces to begin building around Mayfield. So if he’s got to go somewhere in 2022, that’s where he fits best.
As of today. Ask me again in a week.