Over a week into June, and Baker Mayfield is still a rostered member of the Browns.
Mayfield has been a no-show all offseason so far, though his absence is not surprising.
Several months back, Cleveland traded for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, giving the former Clemson player a $230 million guaranteed contract despite facing two dozen sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct civil lawsuits.
Since then, the writing has been on the wall for Mayfield, who is looking for a new team to suit up for, despite an apparent lack of interest.
Interestingly, there’s been little chatter regarding Mayfield from current Browns players until now.
Browns safety John Johnson provided some insight into the locker room’s thoughts on the former quarterback’s situation, speaking with reporters at OTAs:
#Browns safety John Johnson III on team preparing for moving on from Baker Mayfield: "It's just a business. I think we all understand that. We've got three quarterbacks now. We are mentally prepared for him to not be here."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) June 8, 2022
Johnson is absolutely correct that the NFL is a business, and often, hard decisions are chalked up to that mantra.
And unfortunately for Mayfield, he was on the losing end of this deal.
It’s probably for the best that Johnson and the rest of the squad remain focused on the season.
After all, it’s easy to lose sight of the team’s goal amidst the noise.
What’s also interesting is that, in truth, there really hasn’t been much Mayfield noise.
Every few weeks, someone reports that the Panthers or Seahawks are suddenly still interested in Mayfield.
Yet in the reporting’s aftermath: radio silence.
Most recently, it was reported that the biggest sticking point in trade talks is Mayfield’s contract.
Mayfield is set to be owed nearly $19 million next season.
But teams are unwilling to pay out that kind of dough, instead hoping that the Browns will cover a significant chunk of Mayfield’s pay.
At some point, something will have to give; will the Browns simply bite Mayfield’s bullet to pull off a trade, or will they release him?
Either way, it’s going to cost the team.
Over the last few days, further reports of Deshaun Watson’s sexual misconduct have come to light.
In addition to another woman coming forward alleging sexual misconduct, the New York Times published its own in-depth report, supported by interviews from the women, attorneys, and other officials.
The report also underscored the Houston Texans’ apparent complicity in Watson’s actions.
Johnson was asked about Watson’s presence in the locker room and whether these lawsuits were causing a distraction.
The safety quickly separated things that happen “on the field” versus that which takes place “outside the building.”
Johnson had the following to say about his own interactions with Watson:
“In the locker room I’m around him, in the sauna I’m around him. We talk. We chop it up about everything. I don’t think it’s really getting in the way. I think he’s a professional. Once he comes to work it’s about work.”
At some point, Johnson and the rest of the Browns organization might have to confront the reality of Watson’s situation.
The #Browns is the #Browns for a reason.
They ditched a guy #BakerMayfield who THEY picked #1 overall in 2018, gave him 4 coaches in 4 years, and that guy then played an entire year with a torn labrum.
They ditched Baker for Deshaun.
The Mistake by the Lake never ends.
— Obviously (Not) Tomlin (@Tomlin_Sense) June 8, 2022
While Watson faces no criminal suits, he does still face over 20 civil suits.
Further, the league has yet to step in with its own sanctions.
Both will be obstacles that this team will have to overcome.
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