The Cleveland Browns have been looking for a franchise quarterback since 1999. There are high hopes for Baker Mayfield. But with Tyrod Taylor firmly in place as the number one quarterback, what’s the best outcome for Mayfield in 2018?
In the weeks and months leading up to the draft, Cleveland Browns fans were debating what the Browns should do with the new quarterback they were sure to draft. Then John Dorsey acquired Tyrod Taylor in a trade with the Buffalo Bills and Hue Jackson quickly named him the starter.
On draft night, Dorsey made Baker Mayfield the number one overall pick. Let the debate begin: should Mayfield stay or sit?
Grooming a rookie quarterback is more of an art than a science. Should they start right away? Should they sit and learn?
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Let’s be clear, the Cleveland Browns are opting for the sit and learn approach. Once training camp starts, practice reps shrink and the Browns have to prepare one quarterback to start.
That will be Taylor. But how long will Mayfield’s apprenticeship last? How long should it last?
There are two significant issues that play into this question for the upcoming season.
First, with an offense that has had talent infused at every position, the Cleveland Browns are facing elevated expectations.
If the Browns meet, or exceed, those expectations then it’s likely Mayfield continues to sit as the Browns play meaningful games in December.
While that’s a best-case scenario for the Browns, it may not be the best outcome for Mayfield.
The second issue is that Tyrod Taylor is an unrestricted free agent after this season. If the Browns challenge for, or make, the playoffs, the Browns will have to at least think twice about parting ways with Taylor.
On the other extreme, if the Browns get off to a poor start, or Tyrod Taylor gets injured, the Browns will be asking yet another quarterback who is not quite ready to carry the weight of a city on his shoulders. This would not be a good situation for the Browns or Baker Mayfield.
The best scenario for Mayfield would have the Browns winning somewhere in the range of six-7 games. That would be enough to be competitive into the second half, but not enough to still feel the need to start Tyrod Taylor the last few weeks.
Whatever situation plays out, the Cleveland Browns are saying that Baker Mayfield is the future. The only question is how soon the future arrives.
After two abysmal seasons, 6-7 wins, while not quite satisfying, would be improvement. And, perhaps, the best outcome for Baker Mayfield.