With the Cleveland Browns failing to land Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield requested a trade, but the team says it won’t honor that request.
The Browns were informed Wednesday morning that they had been eliminated from the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes.
Later on in the day, Mayfield requested a trade, however, Cleveland told his representatives they weren’t going to honor that request, according to multiple NFL sources.
This is a tad bit awkward, right? Of course, it is, it’s the Cleveland Browns we are talking about. This stuff just writes itself. The Browns were extremely close to landing a franchise-altering quarterback while Mayfield was still on the roster and now the latter wants to part ways.
Can you blame Mayfield? Absolutely not. If your partner in life was actively courting another person while still with you, struck out, and then came back to you, you’d be highly upset, right? You absolutely would be and that’s exactly how Mayfield must be feeling, which he has every right to be.
Here’s where it doesn’t bode well for Mayfield; he has no leverage in this situation. As of right now, he is under contract with the Browns for the upcoming season on his fifth-year option. So the only two options he has right now are to sit out or play. Sitting out will do him no favors if he stays in Cleveland, as this is a contract year and essentially an open tryout to both the Browns and other teams in need of a quarterback.
As of right now, the Browns hold all the cards in this unique scenario. They can, and likely will continue to explore upgrades at the position, but if they cannot land a guy like a Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo, they can always stick with Mayfield and he will then decide if he wants to play out his “prove it” year or sit out and further harm his future.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN said on Tuesday that the Browns would move on from Mayfield regardless of what happened with Watson because they favor an “adult” for the position. And if you really think about that statement, then you will realize Mayfield has not always acted like an adult since joining the NFL back in 2018.
He has a history of chirping back at the media and publicly taking shots seemingly directed at his head coach. He also refused to talk to the media after a victory. Let that sink in. There was also a report of a disconnect between Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Over the past couple of days, we have seen Mayfield send out a heartfelt letter to the city of Cleveland – seemingly saying goodbye – and now request a trade. This is the kind of thing the Browns are talking about when they say they want an adult. On the flip side of that, as was stated earlier in this post, he has absolutely every right to feel the way he does.
The entire situation is messy. Had Mayfield’s career not resembled a roller coaster, this wouldn’t even be a discussion as he would have been extended by now. Inconsistent play is not what any team, especially the Browns who have been in quarterback hell for 23 years now, want to invest in the most important position in all of team sports.
So when you add up the maturity concerns and inconsistent play on the field, you can’t blame the Browns for wanting to move on. They told Mayfield they would look at an upgrade and that became a reality and could possibly still be on the table. Until the Browns find a better option – and that could even be next offseason – Mayfield will be the guy under center.
This could eventually all work in Mayfield’s favor and there are a couple of ways that happens. First and the most obvious is that the Browns can find an upgrade and then ship him off. Option No. 2: he could mature a bit and earn either another year with the Browns that could lead to an eventual extension or prove to other teams that he is worth trading for.
At the end of the day, this situation is messy, but it has a chance of working itself out in the long run, regardless of which path gets both the Browns and Mayfield to whatever lies ahead for both parties.