Things have the potential to get ugly between Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns this offseason and there appears to be a major rift between the quarterback and head coach.
Mayfield is under contract for next year thanks to his fifth-year option, which the Browns picked up last offseason when there were few questions about his future in Cleveland. However, a disappointing season has raised some major concerns about the former top pick’s viability as the long-term solution.
Mayfield played injured for the majority of the season and finished towards the bottom in most major passing categories. He’s 27th with an 83.1 QB rating, completing just 60.5 percent of his attempts for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Mayfield also failed to come through in clutch situations, going 0-5 this season in potential gamewinning drives.
While the numbers speak for themselves, Mayfield had a major issue with how he was utilized within the Browns offense, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. If he doesn’t get “reassurance” of a change in the offensive scheme — which head coach Kevin Stefanski is play-caller for — he’ll request a trade, wanting a style that caters more to his strengths.
Here’s what Cabot had to say about the tension that’s been building:
If Mayfield doesn’t get reassurance that things will change next season, he’ll consider asking to be traded. He’s under contract for $18.858 million in his fifth-year option year, but at this point, it’s uncertain if the Browns even view him as their starter for 2022.
Mayfield said prior to the year that winning would solve everything when it came to his contract situation. But a disappointing, losing season has only complicated his NFL future.
Potential replacements for Mayfield mentioned by Cabot include Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Stefanski Maintains Relationship With Mayfield is Fine
Stefanski was asked about his relationship with Mayfield while speaking to the media on Wednesday, January 5 and maintained that he supports his quarterback, while also admitting frustration has been building.
“In terms of relationship with any of the players, it’s something we always as coaches work on and try to challenge our guys and support our guys, so I feel no different with Baker,” Stefanski said. “I know it’s easy to look at the frustration that we’ve had offensively and you want to pin it all on one player, and that’s just totally unfair.”
Things appeared to boil over for Mayfield after Monday’s loss to the Steelers, in which he was sacked nine times. Four of those sacks were from NFL sack leader TJ Watt, who worked one-on-one against rookie tackle James Hudson III for most of the night.
“Obviously their front’s pretty good, has been for years,” Mayfield said after the game. “But when you’ve got T.J. Watt over there and we’re not giving our rookie tackle a whole lotta help, it’s not going to be good for us.”
Mayfield Scheduled for Surgery in January
What makes the Mayfield situation even more complicated is that he’ll be coming off surgery. He’s scheduled to have surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder on January 19, per Jake Trotter of ESPN. Orr Limpisvasti is the doctor who will perform the surgery, per Trotter.
While much can be said about his numbers and poor play, something no one can question is Mayfield’s toughness. He battled to get on the field week in and week out, for better or worse.
“I’ve continued to lay it out on the line when I haven’t been healthy and tried to fight for our guys,” Mayfield said after the loss to the Steelers. “Now it’s time for me to start looking at what’s in the best interest of me and my health.”
Prior to making his decision to sit out the final game of the season, Mayfield said he would consult his family and agent about the choice, leaving out the coaching staff.
Baker Mayfield Gives Browns Ultimatum on Trade Demand