With the trade of Baker Mayfield behind them, the Cleveland Browns can finally move forward with players they plan on being a part of their future. No longer will the team be surrounded by questions of what they will do with Mayfield if they are unable to facilitate trade. Thanks to the desperation of the Carolina Panthers they were unable to unload the disappointing quarterback for a conditional draft pick.
The team was able to identify that Mayfield was not going to be their answer at quarterback a long time ago. While the team did have their best season since the 1990’s with Mayfield, this was more of a result of excellent coaching and a team that had an unreal amount of talent to support the mediocre signal caller. Even with a loaded offense Mayfield was unable to perform up to a level that the Browns determined to be extension worthy. 2021 was a year of struggle for Cleveland and Mayfield which made their decision that much easier.
While they may have moved on from Mayfield they now have to deal with a different kind of uncertainty. The status of Deshaun Watson is up in the air with the length of his suspension (if any) being a daily topic of debate. Even if Watson is suspended for an entire year moving on from Mayfield is the right decision for the Browns. This past offseason saw the team overhaul the offense to fit the strengths of the new quarterbacks and not that of the former number one overall pick. This is going to be an offense that has spacing and has more open concepts rather than tight end heavy offense that is required to make Mayfield remotely serviceable on a good day. Meanwhile Mayfield finds himself in a downgraded situation all around in Carolina with lesser talent at the skill positions and a lame duck coach on the hot seat in Matt Rhule.
Despite the opinions of many there was never a scenario which was going to see the Browns bring back Mayfield. The team could be without Watson for this entire season (or possibly longer) and if that is the case it will be Jacoby Brissett holding down the fort with Josh Dobbs being the backup. Dobbs is a fine third quarterback, but the Browns would be wise to add another to the mix to either be his backup or usurp Dobbs’ backup role should the opportunity present itself.
What all of this came down to was the Browns front office and coaching staff realizing that putting their future in the hands of Mayfield was not good for anyone. Kevin Stefanski, Andrew Berry, and Paul DePodesta (why he is still here no one knows) would all find their jobs in jeopardy should they run it back and not find success. Turning the page on Mayfield extends their job security and gives their employment an extension. That being said should the decision to acquire Watson turn into a complete debacle (it is close currently), they could still end up with their job on the line.