According to Mike Silver of NFL Media, “several veteran Browns players” approached Mayfield “to register their displeasure.” Silver says that the players and Mayfield “hashed out their differences.”
Johnson has been asking for a trade, and he skipped voluntary offseason workouts in order to express his displeasure with his status, given the presence of Nick Chubb and the offseason signing of Kareem Hunt. Said Mayfield at the team’s mandatory minicamp (which Johnson attended): “If we have guys that want to be here, they’ll show that, they’ll voice that. Obviously he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not, it’s moving. You can get out of the way or you can join us, so it is what it is.”
The comments were more confusing than offensive, because Johnson wants to get off the train. And for good reason. He’s due to make $1.6 million this year, and the Browns need him given that Hunt will miss the first eight games of the season. Come next year, however, Johnson’s salary doubles to $3.6 million. And the Browns will be less likely to keep him.
So Johnson is pushing the issue now, hopeful for a trade to a team where he can prove his worth for 2020, because next year his contract becomes far less attractive for trade purposes.
Veteran players took some offense because Mayfield came dangerously close to getting in between a teammate and his financial arrangements, under the guise of the kind of rah-rah stuff that simply doesn’t apply to the NFL like it does to college and high school football.
The best news for the Browns is that things were quickly hashed out between Mayfield and his veteran teammates. Mayfield is still young and learning, but he has the ability to connect with his teammates in a unique way, and he surely used that charisma to work through the concerns that were brought to him. The mere fact that teammates felt comfortable raising the concerns shows that there’s already a special relationship between Mayfield and his teammates.