Browns unwilling to make Mayfield's messy situation worse

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·2 min read
FILE Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plays in an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Pittsburgh. No longer part of Cleveland's future, Mayfield is not participating in the team's voluntary offseason program as the team tries to work out a trade. On Tuesday, coach Kevin Stefanski was reluctant to address the polarizing QB at all. (AP Photo/Don Wright, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Already at odds with Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns are choosing not to get into a public fight with him.

No longer part of Cleveland's future, Mayfield is not participating in the team's voluntary offseason program as the team tries to work out a trade to get rid of the 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick.

On Wednesday, coach Kevin Stefanski was reluctant to address the polarizing QB at all.

“I’d tell you that’s a unique situation,” Stefanski said of Mayfield, who was pushed aside by the team's acquisition of three-time Pro Bowler Deshaun Watson. “It's fluid and we’ll just continue to work through it as we go each day.”

The fact that the Browns are barely acknowledging Mayfield underscores his stunning fall with the team.

Cleveland selected him with the first pick in 2018. And while he set passing records as a rookie and led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 to end a long drought, his stay was marked by inconsistent play and unnecessary drama.

Mayfield played most of last season with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. While he was recovering, the Browns said their expectation was to bring him back as their starter before they decided to pursue Watson, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by two dozen female massage therapists in Texas.

Cleveland sent six draft picks, including three first-rounders, to Houston for Watson and then signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.

Mayfield felt betrayed by the Browns and said on a podcast last week that the team wasn't honest with him about their plans and he felt “disrespected, 100%.”

Asked for his reaction, Stefanski again chose to steer clear of mentioning Mayfield.

“I’m not going to get into the specifics of those type of things,” he said. "It really is a unique situation and we’ll just work through it.”

Trading Mayfield is complicated for Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry. The 27-year-old QB is due to make $18.8 million this season after the Browns exercised his fifth-year option.

That's a lot for any team to take on for a former starter who may have to revive his career as a backup.

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