Perhaps the most fascinating subplot of the Browns’ addition of Deshaun Watson isn’t so much the fact that it means the end of Baker Mayfield’s time in Cleveland, but more specifically the onslaught of criticism of the 2018 first overall pick as the Browns struggle to find a trade partner.
There’s no doubt at all that Mayfield’s game has flaws, and to this point in his career he hasn’t had the necessary consistency to become one of the top players at his position. But he had an good 2020 campaign, one in which he led the Browns to a playoff win, only to be followed by a 2021 that was marred by injury.
But the narrative around Mayfield for a while has been that he’s immature, and that was reiterated by NFL insider Jordan Schultz during an appearance Thursday on the “Pat McAfee Show.”
Appearing on that same program Monday, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport pushed back against those comments.
“I would take issue with one thing that Jordan Schultz said," Rapoport started. "And we all talk to different sources, so this isn’t against him, but the immaturity thing – I don’t really know about that. I have not heard that with Baker. He’s brash, he’s pretty cocky, he’s very confident, but when he’s winning we all call it moxie and we say he’s got the right stuff to be a franchise guy. Then when he goes and plays on a torn labrum, probably should not have been playing, obviously affected his accuracy, seemed to affect his decision-making, and then we all say he’s immature. But he’s the same dude, so I don’t get all that.”
Rapoport is right that there is something of a moving goalpost when it comes to Mayfield. If nothing else, he’s the type of figure who often can prompt victim-of-the-moment takes.
As for where he’ll play next season, that remains unclear, although the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks remain the most likely destinations.