Baker Mayfield’s messy, necessary divorce from Browns


It’s been an eventful offseason on the Cleveland Browns quarterbacking entrance. The continued carousel of chaos lastly spun off one of many main characters on Wednesday with the commerce sending Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers.

The commerce, nonetheless pending approval primarily based on Mayfield passing a bodily, ends one of the fascinating, fascinating and fluctuating sports activities relationships between participant and metropolis in current instances. Mayfield was celebrated, castigated, championed, chastised and in the end excommunicated in Cleveland for being precisely who he’s: a really proficient however brash and inconsistent participant able to being the explanation why his staff each wins and loses video games.

Many in Cleveland simply couldn’t purchase in to the roller-coaster journey that was Mayfield any longer. The peaks have been implausible, however the valleys have been simply too jarring. Followers have been prepared for the journey to come back to a whole and ultimate cease, and it has. Mercifully. Controversially. Uncomfortably.

Mayfield in all probability likes that conglomeration of feelings. He’s a participant who thrives on conquering outdoors doubts about himself. Nothing might be simple or static with Baker, and that’s largely by his personal design. He wants the sting, the chip, the perceived (and infrequently fairly actual) slights directed at him. He’s the man who isn’t afraid of experiencing the agony of defeat as a result of he savors the fun of victory that rather more due to it. Many followers merely can’t deal with that mentality.

Many media members needed nothing to do with it, too. Mayfield’s sharp sense of self-awareness and willingness to strike again at professionally detrimental critics made for some nice moments but in addition some severe cringes. Talking as somebody who was at a few of these press conferences in Berea, the drama undoubtedly received outdated.

That was the accepted price of doing enterprise with Mayfield. Former GM John Dorsey knew that price and was greater than keen to pay it to have Mayfield lead the staff from the depths of 1 win in two seasons, and Mayfield did that. An excessive amount of of what Mayfield completed in Cleveland will get whitewashed due to the enmity and fatigue he coaxed out of, effectively, everybody…

  • Set the NFL rookie passing TD document (since eclipsed by Justin Herbert)
  • Stabilized probably the most transient place in professional sports activities within the twenty first century
  • Shortly tailored to a number of schematic and training modifications
  • Led the Browns to their first playoff win since 1994 and did so regardless of the pinnacle coach not being out there. Did this in Pittsburgh, no much less. Made the play that received the subsequent playoff sport too; sadly, the officers didn’t agree…

Sure, Mayfield threw too many interceptions. He missed too many throws he ought to have made, both by making an attempt riskier choices or just not seeing the very best open choice. He didn’t deal with success with class and infrequently dealt with failure with infectious brooding and blame. Even when Baker pointed the finger at himself after poor performances, there was all the time a eager sense that the fingers alternatively have been all concurrently pointing at others.

When issues went very unhealthy for each Baker and the Browns in 2021, sufficient turned sufficient. Mayfield shoulders an inordinate quantity of the blame for enjoying via a shoulder damage that ought to have landed him on IR. The Browns stubbornly sticking with an clearly unhealthy and bodily compromised QB after they joyously paid Case Keenum over $6 million to be his succesful backup is an organizational failure with excessive malfeasance. The Browns and Kevin Stefanski ought to obtain A LOT extra scrutiny for that call, however Mayfield’s unlikeability issue trumped any actual detrimental consequence for that horrible selection.

That’s Carolina’s drawback now. Nicely, certainly one of Carolina’s issues. The Panthers now have the No. 1 and No. 2 total picks from the 2018 draft on the roster. Each Mayfield and Sam Darnold play the identical place and can earn $18.9 million in totally assured wage in 2022. Each can be free brokers after the season. Neither has performed persistently effectively sufficient to engender any confidence he’s the long-term answer in Charlotte or anyplace.

Only for good measure, the Panthers even have Matt Corral as a rookie. They traded up within the draft to land Corral, a participant who earned lots of stylistic comparisons to Mayfield whereas enjoying at Ole Miss. One thing’s gotta give, and it received’t be Mayfield. The Panthers may say they haven’t any plans of transferring on from Darnold, however paying him virtually $19 million to not be in Charlotte is best than paying him that a lot cash to rot on their bench as a day by day seen reminder of their very own unhealthy selections. Anticipate Mayfield to start out, Corral to be an keen No. 2 and Darnold to wind up in Washington or Seattle when these groups notice their present QB plans aren’t going to work — with the Panthers paying the tab.

Again to Cleveland. We must always get a ruling on Deshaun Watson within the subsequent week. It’s lengthy overdue, although maybe it’s the penance the Browns should undergo via for making such a rare transfer. My greatest guess is Watson will get suspended for 10 video games, and it will get decreased to eight for “time served” in not enjoying in Houston in 2021. It could possibly be a full season, however I doubt that occurs. It may be no suspension, however that appears unlikely as effectively.

Doing what the Browns did to import Watson together with his appreciable baggage and threat illustrates simply how little religion the staff had in Mayfield — a reliable starter who can information a superb staff to success. Watson actually might be higher than that. The Browns wager $240 million and fairly a bit of fine religion from the followers that he can be.

Cleveland has a superb staff. The Browns are in all probability higher than you suppose, particularly when you’re outdoors of Cleveland. The protection has all of the substances to be the very best within the league in 2022. The offense has three starter-worthy RBs, certainly one of them being the distinctive Nick Chubb, and a brand new No. 1 receiver in Amari Cooper. David Njoku is being paid just like the top-shelf TE he has hinted he might be. They’ve younger depth with some promise and lots of velocity at WR and a reasonably darn good (however overhyped) offensive line. Cleveland simply wants somebody extra dependable and secure than Mayfield to information it.

If Watson can’t be that man due to suspension, it’s a brutal blow to GM Andrew Berry and the Browns. That’s additionally true if Watson comes up brief as a participant, a chance that isn’t out of the query regardless of being fairly unlikely. However transferring on from Mayfield, nonetheless protracted and needlessly ugly because the divorce turned, was obligatory after the administration and training employees misplaced confidence and religion.

Mayfield now has to reprove himself with an emphatically lesser supporting solid. He has notably negative histories with the head coach, a starting wide receiver and the new offensive coordinator in Carolina. His character is just not for everybody. It exhibits the desperation in Panthers coach Matt Rhule to try to salvage his NFL tenure. The loopy factor is, it might really work. I wouldn’t wager on it, however Mayfield offers Carolina and Rhule a greater probability to win than another choices they’d. And Mayfield can thrive when the world is down on him. He’s achieved it earlier than. It will likely be fascinating to look at and see if he can do it once more.

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