It’s no secret the relationship between Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns has soured beyond repair. The former first-overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft and the team that selected him grew apart once Cleveland opted to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans. But as both sides move on following a deal that sent Mayfield to Carolina, the bittersweet ending isn’t complete.
According to Jason Lloyd – Cleveland based writer for The Athletic – Mayfield’s damaged relations stretch further than the executive level. Instead, the quarterback’s attitude had worn on a majority of staff and some teammates, too.
Mayfield once voiced displeasure with head coach Kevin Stefanski missing a meeting following a brutal loss. Instead chatting with Myles Garrett, Stefanski chalks it up as a miscommunication. However, in retaliation for the criticism, Stefanski reportedly did not miss another session with Mayfield, intentionally nitpicking certain flaws with the quarterback’s game.
It makes the verbiage and categorization of displeasure all the more confusing. The Browns wanted to move on from Mayfield in the offseason, citing behavioral issues from the starter. But calling Mayfield’s internal attitude “childish and immature” forces a harsh reflection on the organization instead.
Lloyd specifically highlights Mayfield’s final game with Cleveland – a Week 17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-14. Mayfield took nine sacks in the effort before reaming out his coaches and linemen on the sideline. The game looked like a targeted assault – a reverse-Bountygate with the intention of hurting their own QB.
While Mayfield possesses characteristics some might deem as flaws, descriptors like immature and childish better fit the behavior of head coach Kevin Stefanski. Setting Mayfield up for failure, and holding a silly grudge based off of a harmless misunderstanding, is not a positive look for the third-year head coach.
Replacing Baker Mayfield Brings More Immaturity and Child-Like Behavior
The Cleveland Browns acquiring Deshaun Watson at the beginning of the offseason makes perfect sense from a talent standpoint. However, in accusing the team’s former quarterback of poor leadership, the acquisition opens Pandora’s Box of character flaws.
Watson faces suspension from the league dependent on a disciplinary officer’s ruling. Maybe Cleveland lucks out and isn’t without its starter at any point in 2022. Maybe the 26-year-old receives an indefinite ban from the sport. Reports suggest indecision in the process to this point, leaving the Browns in the dark.
However, regardless of outcome in the hearing, the conversation of character does not change. Watson settled 20 civil lawsuits claiming sexual misconduct last month. The quarterback still has four active cases against him. And while the three-time Pro Bowler won’t face criminal charges for his actions, he is still responsible for them.
Replacing Mayfield with Watson – later citing immaturity as the root cause of the change – makes less sense than acquiring a quarterback facing 24 civil suits in the first place.