‘I Have No Clue What Happens Next’: Baker Mayfield Addresses Uncertain Future In Cleveland As Browns Pursue Deshaun Watson

The AFC North currently does not have any quarterback signed to a long-term contract. That is despite the Baltimore Ravens holding the 2022 rights to Lamar Jackson, the former unanimous MVP in 2019. They are, of course, trying to work on a deal, but nothing is imminent.

Jackson was the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the same year the Cleveland Browns made Baker Mayfield the first. While they both have one playoff win on their resumes, though, Mayfield’s long-term future is bleaker—something he acknowledged yesterday amid reports of his team exploring other options.

The Browns met with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson yesterday as he figures out which team he wants to play for. He is under contract, but the Texans will be trading him. Houston has already approved offers from all of the teams whom Watson is now speaking with, so it’s a matter of the quarterback choosing for whom he will waive his no-trade clause.

Late reports indicate, however, that even if the Browns don’t land Watson, they could still look to trade Mayfield, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract under the fifth-year option. He understands what’s going on, and took to social media to address his circumstances.

“This is not a message with hidden meaning”, he writes, in part. “This is strictly to thank the city of Cleveland for embracing my family and me. We have made many memories and shared growing in this process through all the ups and downs”.

“I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process”, he continued. “I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I’ve always done at every stage, and at every level. And that will not change wherever I take my next step”.

That certainly sounds an awful lot like a preliminary goodbye. I would imagine that Mayfield is in the loop to some extent with regards to what the Browns are planning, but it’s sounding increasingly likely that, even if they don’t deal him as part of a package for Watson (which it sounds like the Browns are not planning on), they could end up trading him anyway.

This all makes it far less surprising that it was previously reported the Browns did not have any intentions of signing Mayfield to an extension this offseason, rather, letting him play out his rookie contract. He played through injury basically all year, and had surgery as soon as the Browns’ season ended.

While he has benefited from one of the top running games in the league, Mayfield helped Cleveland to its first winning record in 2020 since the 2007 season. They went on to reach the postseason for the first time since 2002, and won their first postseason game since 1994.

The Browns finished the 2021 season 8-9, with Mayfield going 6-8. He went 253-for-418 with 3,010 passing yards, with 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. While he was clearly impacted by his injuries, though, the Browns clearly feel that they haven’t seen enough to commit to him, and if they can get a good deal for him, they may even be prepared to move on—Watson or no.

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