‘We could have won a championship with him’: Former Cleveland Browns interim coach on Baker Mayfield

It is no secret it was an up-and-down start to Baker Mayfield’s career after he was drafted No. 1 by the Cleveland Browns.

During his first season, Mayfield set the rookie passing touchdown record with 27. He followed that with a poor second season. A great third year led to a playoff berth and the first playoff win for the Browns since 1994. His final season in Cleveland started well before he injured his shoulder and tried to play through it.

That resulted in the Browns trading for Deshaun Watson and sending Mayfield to Carolina. After a whirlwind 2022 season, during which he played for two different teams, Mayfield found his home in Tampa Bay. He had a career season that led to him getting a three-year, $100 million deal.

During that first season in Cleveland, Mayfield’s head coach and his offensive coordinator were fired midseason after a three-game losing streak.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams took over as the interim head coach and Mayfield and the Browns took off. They went 5-3, and Mayfield completed 68.4% of his passes for 281.8 yards per game, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Mayfield transformed a team that had gone 1-31 their previous two seasons into a seven-win team in his first year.

Williams was not retained as head coach, though. Instead, the Browns hired the interim offensive coordinator, Freddie Kitchens, as the head coach.

Williams spoke on “Come Get Some Show” and had high praise for Mayfield and the new contract he earned with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’m so happy,” Williams said. “He’s one of my all-time favorites. I believe with all my heart, we could have won a championship with him had I stayed in Cleveland instead of heading out. I’m so proud at how he’s proven himself, time after time after time. From high school to college from college to the NFL and now within the NFL. Hey, come get some, Bake. I’m very happy for him.”

It’s easy to play the what-if game with Mayfield’s career. What if Williams had been retained and they built upon the momentum from the 2018 season? Would Mayfield still be there? Would they have won a Super Bowl like Williams thinks?

We’ll never know, but everything happens for a reason, and what is Cleveland’s loss is Tampa Bay’s gain.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire