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Browns may still want Baker if Watson is suspended | You Pod to Win the Game

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Yahoo Sports’ Senior NFL Writer Charles Robinson and Yahoo Sports’ Columnist Dan Wetzel discuss the possibility of Baker Mayfield remaining the Browns starting quarterback if Deshaun Watson is suspended for all or a portion of the 2022 NFL season. Hear the full conversation on the You Pod to Win the Game podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

CHARLES ROBINSON: I want to talk about Deshaun Watson. So I'm here in Houston. You had Deshaun Watson was here with his lawyer Rusty Hardin, and the NFL came in this week. As far as I know, it's Thursday, I don't know that they've wrapped for sure. There's this-- I figure as long as it's quiet and there's no communication coming out of Deshaun Watson's camp, it means that the NFL is still here.

From what I understand, they got in on Monday and began this process of interviewing Deshaun Watson for their probe into the 22 civil suits against him. And they're trying to determine if there's a personal conduct violation. A couple of things that are interesting about this, number one, in these investigations, the NFL player is typically interviewed at the end, which means to me it indicates to me that they are coming to a close in this probe, or at least coming to a point where they can make some kind of a decision.

I think it's really interesting that they've chosen to wrap this now because it leads me to believe that there is going to be a suspension decision one way or another based on the 2022 season. It's not going to kick to 2023. There's going to be a suspension decision in the 2022 season. I would expect that to come in the next-- before camp, OK. So we're in late May. It's going to come before late July.

So you basically have a two-month window here where we're going to find out what's happening with Deshaun Watson. I think it reflects on Baker Mayfield because if you're the Cleveland Browns, you're sitting there and going we might not even want to move Baker until there's now a decision on this because there's a chance that Watson might get suspended all of 2022. And in that scenario, perhaps, we can rebuild the bridge with Baker Mayfield and go look, we know you want out of here.

All good, let's play out 2022, max out your value, max out what you can do. And then you're going to hit free agency, and we're not going to lock you in any way, shape, or form. You're going to hit free agency after 2022, and if you have a great season, you get to go on the Kirk Cousins tour and maybe reap that kind of a windfall when it comes down to it. But I do think--

DAN WETZEL: You think Baker would go for that? Not that he has a choice, much of a choice, but--

CHARLES ROBINSON: I think that it depends on how the Browns present it to him because the Browns could sit down with them and say look, Deshaun is gone. We are definitely not cutting you loose. We already paying you anyway. There's no way we're cutting you loose, and we would like to play. Do you want to play? Do you want to sit, and not play, and not potentially enhance your value, or do you want to play in 2022, stick it to us, show us we were wrong, have a farewell tour, maybe create some second guessing when it comes to our front office and our coaching staff or whatever, and then be able to leave and reap the rewards?

Or do you just want to sit on the bench? Or do you just want to be deactivated for an entire season, lose a season of your playing career, and not really have any traction going into free agency next year, which means, honestly, you're probably going to have to sign a one-year deal in free agency? Teams don't want to trade for you right now. No one's going to sign you to a five-year mega quarterback deal, or a four-year mega quarterback deal.

But guess what. They might if you play 2022 and you play 2022 well. They might sign into that big deal, but they're not going to if you don't play a game in 2022. That could be the rationale in trying to fix this. It's going to take some doing, but if Watson gets suspended, particularly if he's suspended for the balance of 2022, I just don't see the Browns letting Mayfield go. I don't. I don't think there's any way-- if he's gone all the 2022, I think there's a chance that Mayfield sticks.

DAN WETZEL: So if he's suspended all of 2022 and you go back to Mayfield hat in hand, and you're going to have to do a little groveling, bring flowers, bring chocolate, try to suck up a little bit, write some nice Facebook posts about him. I don't know. I mean, that's the mature, wise thing for Mayfield to do. Just say you know what, after everything, I'm going to do this because this is the best chance for me.

He also gets to be the starting quarterback of a talented team with some serious weapons. And there's no guarantee, like you said, if you sit for the year, you're going to end up-- the only chance you're going to get is to sign a one-year deal who knows where. You may not have as good of an opportunity.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Right.

DAN WETZEL: It would make for a very dramatic-- those insurance commercials where he's living in the stadium, this would be very interesting, right?

CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: You got to move. They're going to box stuff up. You can have some kind of fun with that. But if it's less than a year, how does he do it knowing I'm getting the rug pulled out of me on week 12? And you go back and say-- that's tricky.

CHARLES ROBINSON: I don't, I don't think-- if it's less than a year, I don't think it happens. I really don't. I think they go with-- they roll of Jacoby Brissett, and they just deal with it that way. And even, honestly, even the full year, I still think there's a chance they might roll with Jacoby Brissett and just say screw it, we're not going to go through this. We'll just run the hell out of the football. We'll figure out how to tailor the offense the best way we can to Jacoby's skill set and grind it out.

But I think there's no chance-- say this is six games, eight games, say it's a 10-game suspension, I don't think they go through the season with Baker if it's a shorter scale. And I don't know that he necessarily goes for that either.