Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield bet on himself and lost. Cody Benjamin of CBSsports.com projected a four-year deal worth $136 million for Mayfield on July 23th, 2021. The Browns reportedly offered a contract similar, but Mayfield declined. He wanted more. It’s in his DNA. However, the house always wins.
Following an injury to his non-shoulder that probably should have shelved him the rest of the season, he continued to fight. He continued to poorly perform as the season went on and the season quickly spiraled out of control. Drama, frustration and the inability to deliver in big moments have Mayfield potentially out as the Browns starter. How did we get here? What’s next for Mayfield? Can he lead another underdog story?
What To Make Of A Potential Baker Mayfield-Browns Breakup
How Did We Get Here
Baker Mayfield’s ego and maturity were bound to get in the way. It took longer than most media personalities, such as Colin Cowherd, may have expected, but it happened anyway.
It has been a concern since college, where he inappropriately taunted toward the Kansas sidelines, attempted to plant a flag at the 50-yard line versus Ohio State, and was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and fleeing and resisting arrest. The Browns had hoped that he would eventually grow up and become the franchise savior that they have been looking for since Otto Graham
Occasionally he would show signs of progress. He handled the Odell Beckham, Jr. drama as professionally as possible this year. Off the field, he participated in a handful of events in the Cleveland area that helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, his maturity was still far below his peers. He pointed the finger at coach Kevin Stefanski for poor game planning on multiple occasions during interviews with the media. While Stefanski is deserving of some criticism, that is a situation that should be handled internally and not in the public eye. He took to social media to criticize local journalists for their “fake news” and fair-weather fans who were interested in a potential Deshaun Watson trade.
He also went after the Browns medical staff for the handling of Beckham’s injury in 2019, and former teammate Duke Johnson for requesting a trade. It’s not a shock why this is quickly becoming a messy break-up.
One could also argue that his injury was self-inflicted and is not a reason to defend him from his poor play this season. He could have sat out and healed for next season but his ego wouldn’t let him.
Evaluating Potential Fits
While there are reports of the Indianapolis Colts having an interest in Baker Mayfield, it simply doesn’t make any sense. They moved on from quarterback Carson Wentz because he, too, has character flaws.
Additionally, if you compare Wentz’s last season to Mayfield’s best season in 2020, they are nearly identical statistically. Both had a completion percentage of 62%, and Wentz had one more touchdown and one less interception than Mayfield.
The only advantage Mayfield has is a playoff victory. Wentz has none. How much do the Colts value that one win? If they do, then they would be better suited going after Jimmy Garoppolo who is on the market and has four career playoff wins and Super Bowl experience.
Mayfield’s best fit would be with the Seattle Seahawks. The assumption is that this would be done via trade which would have him play in a contract year. He can statistically resurrect his career if Seattle keeps Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Noah Fant.
Metcalf is coming off of a near 1,000-yard receiving season, yet people are concerned he is regressed. Lockett, on the other hand, is coming off a 1,000-yard season and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Both were working with a banged-up Russell Wilson and Geno Smith at quarterback and found success. Fant finished top-10 among tight-ends in receiving yards with quarterbacks who might not even have a starting job this season.
Seattle might not have many talented played outside of their receivers and secondary, but luckily they play in the NFC. While the Packers, Cowboys Buccaneers, and Rams appear to be favorites for another playoff campaign, the other 3 seeds are up for grabs. If Mayfield can lead an inspiring charge to a 7th seed with this roster and put his ego aside, he might be able to get that contract he was ultimately hoping for.