Baker Mayfield’s Best Days Are Behind Him

When the Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield as the number 1 overall draft pick in 2018, they thought they were getting their franchise quarterback. He won the 2017 Heisman Trophy with the Oklahoma Sooners and was the most talked about quarterback in his class.

Well, it’s four years later and things haven’t exactly gone the way Browns fans would’ve hoped with Mayfield under center. He hasn’t been nearly what the team was expecting him to be, and now with the Deshaun Watson trade and signing, Mayfield’s future as a Cleveland Brown is all but over.

Mayfield in Cleveland

Despite a solid rookie campaign statistically, Mayfield began his first two seasons with Cleveland by going 12-17. Of course, not all of those losses are Mayfield’s fault, but a quarterback with the clout Mayfield had when he was drafted should be able to turn in more wins than 12 in his first couple seasons.

There’s no excuse for his 6-10 record in the 2019 season as the Browns had traded for Odell Beckham Jr. and had a full season of Nick Chubb in the backfield. 

After a season of missed opportunities, Mayfield came back in 2020 and had a career year as he led the Browns to a regular season record of 11-5 and their first playoff victory since 1994. Mayfield shined on the gridiron that season as he threw for over 3500 yards and 26 touchdowns compared to just 8 interceptions and posted a passer rating of 95.9; the highest of his career.

After the best season of his career, Mayfield returned to subpar form in 2021. He went 6-8 as a starter and threw for the fewest number of yards in his career (3,010) along with 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. 

Mayfield came to Cleveland with a lot of potential but in his four seasons with the Browns, he has a 29-30 record as a starter and an average passer rating below 90. The Browns are moving in a new direction at the quarterback position and it’s hard to blame them. 

Now Mayfield continues to cause drama off the field as his future remains uncertain.

A Fresh Start for Mayfield 

Mayfield being dealt away from Cleveland is inevitable now, and he’s made it clear that his relationship with the team is irreparable. 

It’s likely that Mayfield will begin a new chapter of his career in the NFC as the two leading contenders to land him are the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks.

His potential future with the Panthers received some awkward attention this week as Carolina wide receiver Robby Anderson publicly expressed disappointment at the prospect of the team trading for Mayfield. As a team, that’s not how you want a member of your receiving corps reacting to the quarterback you’re rumored to be trading for, and while it’s unprofessional by Anderson, he may honestly have a point.

Mayfield has yet to prove that he can consistently lead a successful offense and his numbers as a Brown do not inspire confidence. It’s possible that Mayfield goes over to the Panthers and has success, but considering the troubles Sam Darnold had last season and the lack of reliability on Carolina’s offensive line; it’s unlikely.

The Seahawks may honestly be the better fit. The Seahawks are the more functional franchise and Mayfield being able to have D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as targets would definitely benefit his stats. 

However, both of these teams are not expected to be playoff contenders this season and if Mayfield can’t start winning with more consistency, his shelf life as a starter is going to continue to dwindle. 

Mayfield needs to focus less on how he’s being perceived in the media and much more on pure on-field success; something that’s been lacking in his four seasons in the NFL. This next chapter of his career is a rubber meets the road moment and the pressure is on.