The Cleveland Browns put out some boilerplate ‘feelgood’ farewell messages after they officially traded Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers, but few if any actually bought it, I’m sure. The relationship between the quarterback and the organization had clearly been severed, even if not perhaps beyond repair, but with a new franchise guy already in the building, it was always likely that a divorce was in order.
There are many valid criticisms toward the Browns about how they handled Mayfield, both over the course of the past nine months and over the course of his entire career. They weren’t exactly overwhelming anybody with their support of him last season as he played, even if poorly, through significant injury.
But it is a two-way street, and the Browns have never been shy about leaking negative comments about Mayfield. One source in the organization told Chris Mortensen back in March that the team “wanted an adult in the [quarterback] room”.
This past week, Jason Lloyd further expanded upon the apparent sense within the organization that “Mayfield was widely viewed as childish and immature”. He wrote in an article for The Athletic, indeed, that “His behavior annoyed teammates and divided the locker room”.
Most infamous was the situation with former All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., which was ultimately resolved with Beckham’s release. The degradation of the relationship within the organization coursed through time, however, and really went through the Browns’ final game of the season last year.
“We were left with a quarterback who didn’t trust his coach and a coach who didn’t trust his quarterback”, Lloyd wrote. “Whether or not that ever could’ve been repaired will never be known now, but the team believed the issue was more the quarterback than the coach”.
Still, it should be added that there is nothing universal, here. Everybody is going to have their opinions about what happened and who was at fault and whether or not anything could be resolved. Lloyd noted one source within the organization who wondered what things would look like today if Mayfield was just shut down after he was injured last year rather than playing through it and struggling.
Cleveland, of course, sold the farm to bring in Deshaun Watson as their new franchise quarterback. They are hoping to find out within the next couple of weeks whether or not they are even going to have the opportunity to see him on the field at any point in 2022.
They may have an equally good shot at seeing Mayfield, as the Panthers will host the Browns in Week 1. While Carolina also has Sam Darnold and rookie Matt Corral at quarterback, it seems there’s a more than fair chance Mayfield is going to be the starter.