NFL Insider: Baker Mayfield ‘got screwed’ by Cleveland Browns 

Baker Mayfield is often labeled a bust, but some say it was the Browns who failed him
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns / Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re entering the third season since Baker Mayfield was traded by the Cleveland Browns and things have been going well for the 2018 first overall pick. He dusted himself off following a rough stretch with the Carolina Panthers and finished 2022 strong with the Los Angeles Rams.

Mayfield turned that brief success into a shot as the starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and took them to the second round of the NFC playoffs. He's set as their starter now after signing a three-year, $115 million extension this offseason.

Despite his turnaround, there's a continued theme in Cleveland — some consider him a bust. That's not the case though as Aditi Kinkhabwala recently pointed out. The NFL reporter said Mayfield was someone Kevin Stefanski felt good about but that the quarterback “sort of got screwed” by the organization.

"Baker wasn't a bust," Kinkhabwala said about Mayfield. "Baker, in some ways, got screwed. I do know for a fact, in conversations that I directly had with Kevin Stefanski, that Kevin Stefanski had no issues moving forward with Baker Mayfield, had no doubts moving forward with Baker Mayfield."

Baker Mayfield was far from a bust

The idea that Mayfield was a bust is actually laughable. The Browns as an organization was 1-31 in the two seasons prior to his arrival. They went 29-30 with him as the starter and it should have been 30-30 since he led them to a win over the New York Jets despite not starting.

Mayfield threw for 14,125 yards with 92 touchdowns and 56 picks. He wasn't perfect but it’s hard to argue he's not the best quarterback they've had since returning to the league. The only issue was that the organization wanted to go in a different direction.

The most interesting part is that Kinkhabwala hinted that Jimmy Haslam was the one who encouraged both Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry to pursue Deshaun Watson in favor of Mayfield. That's often been the belief and would make sense why Haslam hasn't been bothered enough by the lack of production from Watson to hold off on extensions for the coach and GM.

In the end, this all could work out for everyone. Cleveland is winning even without Watson consistently playing and Mayfield has found a place where he can thrive. But that doesn't mean his time in Cleveland should be looked upon as a failure because it wasn’t. 

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