Things are not going entirely well in Brownsland right now, though if they end up landing quarterback Deshaun Watson, that would dramatically change the conversation. For now, it appears that they are heading for a breakup, either way, with their once-presumed franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield, whom they selected in 2018 with the first overall draft pick.
According to Chris Mortensen on ESPN, “they’re breaking up, regardless of whether or not Deshaun Watson ends up in Cleveland”, as he said on the air yesterday. “The one thing I was told is that it’s just not a match emotionally”.
“Whereas Baker Mayfield’s passion and emotional leadership was embraced at Oklahoma, and even at the beginning with the Browns, things have changed, and they want what they consider ‘an adult’ at that position, and that Baker Mayfield probably is going to be moved”.
Of course, word choice doesn’t always work out in your favor, and in this case, it certainly doesn’t for the Browns. Not only are they actively courting an ‘adult’ who is facing 22 separate civil cases of sexual misconduct, they have done so, reportedly, without even informing Mayfield of their intentions—and that he found that out via social media.
Even though it sounds as though the Browns now intend to trade Mayfield—his $18,858,000 salary in 2020 is fully guaranteed as a fifth-year option, so that cap hit would remain if they simply released him without another team taking it on—it was reported that he would not be included in a potential trade for Watson.
In terms of maturity, Mayfield has been an interesting character study. He is a bit of a mixed bag, but at least in my estimation, I feel that he has risen to the occasion when appropriate, and has handled his responsibilities as a spokesman for the franchise on touchy subjects generally well.
He does have an emotional streak that doesn’t always serve him well, admittedly. While he is far from the first one to do it, he has made some comments in post-game interviews that have undermined the coaching staff.
It is not entirely clear if Mortensen’s quote refers to some behind-the-scenes behavioral patterns that we’re not aware of. Perhaps they’re not sure if he truly commands the sort of respect in the locker room that they feel a quarterback should.
The question is, what happens if Watson signs somewhere else, which is a distinct possibility? Who will be their quarterback? The situation with Mayfield is looking irreconcilable at this point, but without him, they would be back to the drawing board with the likes of Case Keenum and Nick Mullens.