The Browns QB might know something that we don’t (in fact, it’s safe to say that he probably knows a lot of things that we don’t), but his heartfelt letter to the city of Cleveland last night caused some confusion. In a notes app write-up posted to Twitter, Baker Mayfield thanked the city of Cleveland for embracing him and his family, writing “I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process …I have given this franchise everything I have … And that will not change wherever I take my next snap.”
By all accounts, that looks like goodbye (though he did include that “this is not a message with a hidden meaning”), despite nary a trade announced at the Browns QB position. This was posted after the Cleveland higher-ups spoke with current Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who was recently cleared of criminal sexual harassment charges after sitting out the 2021-22 season. But the Browns are just one of several teams that are meeting with Watson and the Texans to discuss a trade, a group that includes the Saints, the Panthers, and the Falcons. Read: no guarantees.
From the way the former No. 1 draft pick’s note reads, it sounds like he’s being pushed out of Ohio after four alternating years of excelling and then underperforming. He’s been inconsistent from year to year and he’s reportedly “prickly,” but he also led the franchise to their first over-.500 season in well over a decade in 2020 and won a playoff game. His 2021 season was hampered by injuries that he chose to play through, perhaps unwisely, leading to a tough TD-to-interception ratio and a low completion percentage (ranking 27th of 32 qualified QBs).
Mayfield seems to be quickly realizing that the Browns have come to the conclusion that their QB has reached his ceiling in Cleveland. As Stephen A. Smith put it on First Take this morning, “Everywhere you look, [the Browns] had weapons. You, as the quarterback, were the weak link. Baker Mayfield was the Achilles heel for the Browns offense.”
Surrounded by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield, with OBJ and Jarvis Landry as targets, Mayfield shouldered most of the blame for the team’s failures, though many fans believe that he doesn’t get enough credit for reviving the franchise during his first three seasons throughout several coaching changes. He very well may be requesting a trade whether or not the Browns are able to sign on a new QB — maybe he’s done with Cleveland, and not the other way around.
The Colts look like a solid target for him, as they’re in the market for a new QB1 after trading away Carson Wentz in what seems to be an ever-evolving QB trade cycle this offseason. Of course, a lot of this depends on whether the Browns can get Watson or another upgrade — because if they can’t, and Mayfield has to stay in Cleveland, there’s sure to be some animosity next season.