Deshaun Watson Linked With The Browns - Is This The End For Baker Mayfield In Cleveland?
By Andy Davies
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has recently been linked to the Browns as a possible destination for the former Clemson prospect.
We have seen the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers among many other NFL teams linked to the troubled star who continues to be subject to over 20 sexual misconduct allegations.
If Watson is cleared of all wrong-doing or the cases are settled, he is likely to be a very highly sought individual. Putting legal troubles aside, he is a fantastic player that would improve over half of the 32 teams in the league.
The bigger picture is that the fact he has been linked to the Cleveland Browns shows what some of the media think of current starter Baker Mayfield.
It has been a mixed first four seasons in the NFL for Baker but with playoff hopes in the balance and talk of a new start through Free Agency or the draft, is this the end for Mayfield with the Browns?
Mayfield is set to be an unrestricted Free Agent in 2023 and will want to improve on his inconsistency if he wants to stay as Cleveland’s QB1.
Drama seems to follow Baker wherever he goes. He was arrested during his college days but has refrained from similar mistakes as a pro, which shows a level of maturity. However, in 2019, headlines surrounded his relationship with head coach Freddie Kitchens, who only lasted one season in the role. Mayfield was repeatedly snappy with reporters.
In 2021, the drama was more relating to his relationship with Odell Beckham Jr. This was an issue in 2019 but injury in 2020 to OBJ saw many forget about the broken-down relationship. With Beckham healthy in 2021, there was no shying away from the lack of partnership. People felt that Odell was the problem, which ultimately led to his move to the Los Angeles Rams. Whilst Baker hasn’t seemed quite 100% healthy, his problems on the field have continued without Odell in the lineup.
His most recent game saw him throw for a 58.3% completion percentage, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Baker is tied at 12th for most interceptions thrown in the league in 2021 but Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (13) is the only player to have thrown for more interceptions whilst playing less games.
Brown fans appear more and more frustrated, as it was clear when a video emerged of them burning Mayfield jerseys. Whilst this is most likely the small minority, this is still a worry for Baker.
The Talent Is There
Mayfield isn’t a complete disaster at quarterback. In fact, you could make the case that he is the Browns’ best quarterback of the 21st century, not that is saying much. He has thrown for the fourth most passing yards in franchise history and the fifth most passing touchdowns despite having played half the years the top three to four passers have tallied up.
Judging by his career trajectory, he is likely to have a great season next year. He threw for 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his 2018 rookie campaign, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 2019, 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2020 and so far, has 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2021.
The Browns have the roster that a lot of Browns quarterbacks of the past wish they had. Myles Garrett is one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL and defensive back Denzel Ward was named in this season’s Pro Bowl. Odell may have gone but there is still Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Njoku and Austin Hooper to throw the ball to. Cleveland also has the best RB1 and RB2 in the entire league, with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. However, they have both struggled with injuries this season which has impacted Baker’s game as he normally relies on the run game to ease the pressure on his arm.
The Browns should stick with Baker, unless a player such as Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson become available. The QB draft class is not said to be anything special, in what seems a draft for getting defensive studs.
He has one more year left, he deserves one more shot at the starting role with all his offensive weapons healthy. The question remains, can he silence the critics and start for this organisation past 2022?
A current Sports Journalism masters student, Andy has been writing NFL articles since January 2020. Originally from Wales, Andy also writes for pro football mania and dolphins talk, as well as appearing on podcasts and videos for euro tripz. find him on twitter @andydaviessport.