Baker Mayfield’s plan to boycott Browns may have revived Deshaun Watson effort

Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

So how did the Browns end up securing the rights to quarterback Deshaun Watson after they were the first of four finalists to be eliminated? The Browns by all appearances sweetened the financial pot, to $46 million per year for five years. And the sweetening of the pot apparently was prompted by the fact that the relationship with their incumbent starter had irreparably soured.

As explained by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns actually did intend to pivot back to Mayfield after missing out on Watson, and that they were moving on from Mayfield only if they could get someone like Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, or Derek Carr. Mayfield, per Cabot, wasn’t on board with that.

As Cabot explained, Mayfield reached the “breaking point” when the Browns sent a delegation to Houston to meet with Watson. Adding injury to insult was the report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the Browns want “an adult” at quarterback. Mayfield’s camp believed the comment came from within the Browns organization. (It likely came from the very top.)

So while Cleveland’s plan seemed to be “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” Mayfield was done. Cabot reports that he “likely” would have skipped the offseason program. That he would have skipped the mandatory minicamp. That he “probably” would have held out of training camp if not traded.

It would have gotten expensive for Mayfield, but every player’s rights are set forth by two contracts — his personal deal with the team and the broader agreement between the league and the union. He had a right to stay away. Even if he showed up, he likely would have continued to ask for a trade. And he quite possibly would have been even more of a handful for the Browns to deal with.

Frankly, it’s stunning that the Browns thought they could chase a franchise quarterback without crossing the Rubicon with Mayfield. It shows that those inside the building failed to read a situation that was obvious to most on the outside.

Mayfield wasn’t going to tolerate an effort to supplant him. You can call that whatever you want — competitive, immature, territorial, shrewd, gutsy, impractical — but it was obvious based on what we’ve seen and heard from Mayfield that the last thing he would do is shrug and keep going.

Thus, the Browns had to keep going for Watson. And they got him. Now, they simply have to hope that the still-boiling legal situation won’t go off the rails. Even though it still could.

85 responses to “Baker Mayfield’s plan to boycott Browns may have revived Deshaun Watson effort

  1. Feel bad for the Browns fans. Such a terrible organization. Sure, they’ll flash once in a while due to the accumulation of high draft picks as a result of consistently finishing at the bottom of the league. But Haslam is a terrible owner, right there with the likes of Snyder in DC.

  2. Not even mentioning quarterbacks…but how many Browns players period have made it to 2nd contracts over the last 15 or so yrs?

  3. Mayfield had all the leverage but was such a baby that now he has no leverage. Brownies, please trade him to the lions!

  4. Good. Any player that begins to think he is more important than the team or even as important as the team, needs to be sent packing. The most recent team that failed to understand that unwritten law, is the Green Bay Packers.

  5. I guess your argument is that the Browns should have kept Mayfield in a loaded AFC and hoped for the best after an exhausting season of drama while wasting prime years of Garrett, Ward, Chubb, Hunt, Cooper, Teller, Bitonio, JOK, etc.

  6. Right – the Browns gave up 3 first round picks + and a quarter billion dollars because they were cornered by a quarterback on a fifth year rookie deal. Maybe Mason Rudolph will demand a trade and the steelers will be forced to find a way to secure Aaron Rodgers or Josh Allen??

  7. Why would they say they want an adult at QB, and still pursue Watson? Even if Mayfield is not fully mature, that seems like a thing you shouldn’t say about the QB you want to pivot back to.

  8. The Browns are & seem to have been a dysfunctional organization for far too long. Maybe Baker wasn’t the answer but how can we truly know w 5 different coaches since being drafted. Have all of the QBs drafted in the last 20+ years been really that bad? No, this is an organization that doesn’t have the ability to develop. If I were a QB drafted by the Browns I would seriously consider an Eli/Elway.

  9. Or maybe the front office knew what they were getting into with BM, based on BM’s previous Hx. Maybe the front office plan was to get BM to go nuclear and thus pushing the owner to approve a bigger contract.

  10. Well at least the Browns now have a very mature adult QB. DW would never do anything immature or illegal.

  11. A coach of a team I once played on told us to look in the mirror in the morning and realize that you were looking at the biggest problem you would face today, that us, YOU.

    And so it is with Baker Mayfield.

  12. The bottom line is that the Browns went for a more talented QB. As much as it was difficult to accept emotionally for Mayfield, the inflated view he has of himself, made him react in a bad way.
    Once he learned that Watson was out at first, he should have look at himself in the mirror and decide to let his play on the field do the talk, in full recognition that Watson is a better QB, but which in no way, did prevent him of having a great year by improving his play.
    Life is a learning process.

  13. Baker makes it to the Super Bowl before the Browns. And he doesn’t testify before a grand jury along the way…..

  14. Baker made this a mess. It’s business not personal. He should have just kept his mouth shut and stayed off social media. Now he is a man without a team and the Browns will send him to whomever they get the best deal from. He handled this really badly but I do wish him well.

  15. Baker should have felt that way, and he hopefully will learn from this, and understand that it’s time to start acting like a professional. Your college days are over so grow up!!!

  16. Well perhaps people shouldn’t mouth people while pushing them out the door. Then suddenly asking them to remain in house, wouldn’t be so impossible.
    After calling me a child after playing hurt most of the year would definitely make mleadership.
    Now follow that up with I need to be more humble and just take the insult…
    Nah, I am out of this unprofessional joke of franchise leadeship.

  17. He was not the long term plan going into 2020. His play got better, but no contract extension because of his actions.

    Not a shocking plan. Deshaun Watson did the exact same thing to Houston for different reasons.

    I wish him well.

  18. The thing that irritates me most about baker is his diva attitude. If you are a pro Bowl qb then I get acting like a diva, but baker is a below average qb who is acting like hes accomplished what Tom Brady or Mahomes has.

  19. Free Baker!

    He was enough to get them a win in the playoffs for the 1st time in decades and they are ungratetful…. OK.. Go suck with Deshaun!…. Let Baker go help another team win in the playoff!

    I find it amusing that much of the nation rooted for the Browns to win every year because of sympathy and now much of the nation hope they tank because of their lack of morals pursuing Watson… LoL

  20. I’m the end, the Browns will be the worst team in the AFC north next year. Deshaun will miss 6 games due to suspension, put up some amazing stats in the other 10 games, but somehow not make the big plays when they need to be made. The Browns will go 7-10, just like the Texans went 4-12 in Deshaun’s “amazing” 2020 season. Meanwhile the Steelers will make the playoffs as usual and Baker will lead Indy to the playoffs. The Browns fans can decide who to root for in the Colts – Steelers playoff game. Either way, they get a pie in the face..

  21. So they leaked they wanted an “adult” at QB and Baker promptly showed them he unequivocally could NOT be an adult.

    Rodgers, Baker, Wentz, Brady, Watson….has the league ever had this much QB drama at once?

  22. Baker Mayfield will be a star on most NFL teams. The poison in the Browns will affect Watson too. Congratulations Baker. You’re on your way to look like you did with the Sooners again.

  23. How does baker Mayfield change a light bulb?? He holds it in the socket and waits for the world to revolve around him.

  24. Haslam had simpler choices without blowing things up like he did. The impulsive, clueless browns owner has now sunk his own ship and become a laughing stock.

  25. I wouldnt call it a win for the Browns yet. They WAY overpaid for Watson. 230M+a bunch of draft picks, for a QB who is outside of the top 5?

    The team will be good for the short term, but they are going to deteriorate quickly without draft picks or cap space. In 5 years, back to picking at #1 again.

  26. A few years back,… I felt sorry for Cleveland Browns fans. The organizations front office was a mess,… coaching was questionable,… and they had a tough time winning 5 games a year.
    It looked like they were going to break out of the doldrums,.. heck they won a playoff game,… 1st one in 28 years.
    But once again,… the Owner and GM have taken the low road by dissing the QB who got them into the playoffs. It’s like Detroit firing the only coach who gave them a winning season in 20 years. I don’t feel sorry for Browns fans anymore. They piled on. smh

  27. The Browns know exactly what they are doing. They are making Watson bet against himself. If he gets suspended for even 1 game (which he will), he is due to make $ 1 million dollars this year and all that “guaranteed” money goes away and becomes the standard contract. Brilliant.

  28. tb12bestqbevah says:
    March 20, 2022 at 10:35 am
    So they leaked they wanted an “adult” at QB and Baker promptly showed them he unequivocally could NOT be an adult.

    Rodgers, Baker, Wentz, Brady, Watson….has the league ever had this much QB drama at once?

    20Rate This

    ———————

    If you told me 5 years ago that Brady would be leading the charge in some kind of a drama queen/primadonna charge that reveberates through the league, I would have said you are crazy.

    I was beyond wrong about who Tom Brady is. He hid it very well for a long time.

  29. I like Baker as a player but how people are A. defending him and B. surprised at this behavior is beyond me. This is the guy that made Hugh Jackson getting another job about him then made Duke Johnson not wanting to play for Bakers hand picked horrible coach Freddie Kitchens about him too. This is also the guy who killed the Browns playoff chances by refusing to let any other QB play unless the NFL forced him on the bench even though he was hurt and his backups were clearly capable of doing the job.

    Baker Mayfield has the skill to be a Drew Brees but I do agree with the NFL players and GM’s asked about him that it’s not going to happen unless he’s humbled. Can’t get better at anything if everything is everyone elses fault and you think you’re always a victim. I’m not convinced the Browns got better with this trade but they certainly didn’t get worse. Andrew Berry should absolutely get credit for finding a way to get rid of two insanely talented head cases (Mayfield, OBJ) but also finding suitable replacements so it didn’t hurt the on the field product (Cooper, Watson).

  30. shadylamp says:
    March 20, 2022 at 11:18 am
    The Browns know exactly what they are doing. They are making Watson bet against himself. If he gets suspended for even 1 game (which he will), he is due to make $ 1 million dollars this year and all that “guaranteed” money goes away and becomes the standard contract. Brilliant.

    ———————

    Pay attention. Watson’s new contract carves out an exception for his current situation. That is also why he is only making $1 mill in salary so the possible suspension doesn’t cost him money.

  31. Why so much focus on Mayfield? Peeps should try focusing on the watson guy and the 24 complaints.

  32. shadylamp says:
    The Browns know exactly what they are doing. They are making Watson bet against himself. If he gets suspended for even 1 game (which he will), he is due to make $ 1 million dollars this year and all that “guaranteed” money goes away and becomes the standard contract. Brilliant.
    ————-
    His old contract had voids for Personal conduct suspensions. Unlikely that the new one has that language in the contract. The reason he is due to make 1M this year, is because they are expecting a suspension. So if he is suspended for 6 games he would “only” lose $350K.

    So Watson was being smart, and the Browns are being the Browns. People were taunting the Packers for overpaying Rodgers and losing Davante. At least the Packers have draft picks to build on.

    The Browns wont have cap space for big names, and they wont have first round picks for 3 years.

  33. I love seeing Brownie fans kicking Baker as he goes out the door while welcoming Mr. Massage Table with open arms.

    You reap what you sow Brownies, your backbone is just as weak as the Commanders and Haslan’s ownership is just as ethical as Snyder’s.

  34. This whole deal smells like Jimmy Haslam had his hands all over it. I can’t say he is a poor owner, but is desperate for a winner! I think both Andrew and Kevin have planted some nice seeds and are developing a solid roster. I’m not the biggest fan of this arraignment because of the alleged accusations accompanied by the uncertain consequences. I hope this storied franchise can finally get some legs and move forward.

  35. Of the QBs mentioned the Browns wanted it would seem Watson and Carr were the only realistic options. Brady wants rings, Rodgers just signed with GB, Wilson just signed with Denver and for whatever reason Carr and the Raiders are inseparable. That left only Watson who could be had for the right amount of money.

  36. slimglynn says:
    March 20, 2022 at 9:54 am
    Take the high road Baker
    ____________

    It’s not in his nature to do so unfortunately. He was drafted for his accuracy and leadership ability. Well, his accuracy was inconsistent and he seemed to lose the locker room after the OBJ fiasco. Personally, I’m not real happy with the Watson pick up but I’m also not sad to see Baker go as I’ve seen enough of #6.

  37. Had they pursued rogers or Brady mayfield wouldn’t have had an issue. Nobody can claim baker is anywhere near the level of those guys. But an aging Wilson, Carr, Watson? Its arguable any of those guys are better than baker. He’ll he may have been on board if the team had kept him informed amd then not insulted him in the press. Instead the “adults” bungled the whole situation. I think they have vastly misunderstood just how bad of a look this is for the team. Or maybe they do which is whybthey haven’t held a press conference yet… goodbye browns, in former years I would have suffered along with all your losses, this year ill be cheering them on. I’ve got 100 bucks that says this team goes 0-17 in the next 5 years.

  38. There is always more than what is written by the media. The fall out with OBJ, the injury to Baker, his stubbornness to play every game, a less than stellar season for him & the Browns and finally the looming extension conversations probably also had something to do with all this. Were the Browns willing to go through another year of evaluation? Would it have changed anything? The risk of going for Watson now and lock in.a QB for the near future versus another evaluation year followed by a possible rebuild. It’s going to be tough winning the division so a bold move was needed. Another rebuild will mean wasted years for many talented players already on the roster. It’s a tough decision for both Baker but also for the Browns. It’s a business after all.

    Only time will tell if it pays off. Although, I hope it does.

  39. He may be the starting QB on opening day!!! They don’t even know if Watson will be available. Who is their backup? Oh yeah they traded him.

  40. My guess is that what happened to Ryan Tannehill when he left Miami is going to happen to Baker Mayfield. All of a sudden, he’s going to light it up. Not a fan of the diva, but it’s amazing how getting out a bad situation does wonders for a career.

  41. Its not fair for the Browns to say negative things about Mayfield and he is supposed to take the high road? What was the endgame there?

    I don’t want to be a part of any organization that does not want me. Anyone should understand that. He is human after all.

  42. Other than Mayfield getting the Browns into the playoffs and winning a playoff game,…… when and who has led Cleveland to a winning record and into the playoffs ??? How long ago ?
    Let me tell you,…. it was 2007,… 15 years ago. Derek Anderson QB and Romeo coaching. So after 15 years of futility and losing,… Cleveland has a QB who wins games,.. but he’s not good enough for the owner.
    And I can’t understand the fans. they want a winner,.. they had one,… and they piled on the insults too. I hope Mayfield gets a nice QB gig and beats the pants off of Cleveland.

  43. gabbertformvp says:
    March 20, 2022 at 12:31 pm
    The question becomes who would want Mayfield at this point?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I believe Baker Mayfield would make the Indianapolis Colts a contender for their division

  44. I don’t buy that they actually pivoted back to Mayfield. Matt Ryan, Jimmy G, Mariota, Newton, Winston, Fitzmagic, and Dalton are all upgrades over Mayfield, but hey it’s the Browns so I could be wrong.

  45. Browns wanted someone more mature… so they decided to go after a guy who commits domestic abuse? THAT’S their idea of more mature?

    It’s kind of obvious why the Browns are the Browns.

  46. It’s been my opinion for a long time that if you are a good team guy and put in X years at a certain point if things don’t work out you have the right to go ask for a move as long as it’s not to a rival or things haven’t gotten unprofessional and personal. Stafford leaving my Lions is a good recent example. Manning with Luck looming and his west and tear asking to have his release similar. Emmitt Smith going to ARZ after Dallas. All had put in time, and decided the last chapter was elsewhere. Teams agreed mostly.
    All this preamble was to say you either need glory, or a lot of years being a pro to ask out AND try to choose where you go.
    Baker has got nowhere near the banked experience points to use a gaming term to ask for this. No glory, not a ton of professionalism on his part. He’s acted more like a college QB in the pros as far as behavior. Maybe this is what it comes to for me. He seems to have learned nothing in the pros. He’s not more mature, his game is still the same. He still seems a me first guy who presumes that becomes “we” since he’s the QB1.
    As I said I’m a Lions fan. I don’t want the chips to fall differently and we acquire him. I’d frankly rather have Goff he’s Uber team first his teammates like and respect him. He’s not as talented, but I think is a better QB, a much better leader.
    Mayfields braggadocio is not leadership. It’s schtick. IMO

  47. Personally as a Pats fan I could not care less. BUT if spending millions for Watson means we don’t have to suffer through the endless Progressive Insurance “Baker as the everyman” commercials I will pitch in. The guy is a crybaby and I am confident his career will be akin to Marcus Mariotta.

  48. Baker is still acting like a college QB. He has 0 professionalism. He tried to burn the Browns and it backfired. If I’m the Browns I trade him to the a lowly NFC team with no talent. Good riddance Baker Bumfield.

  49. I hope they trade Baker to New Orleans he helps with their rebuild goes on to take the Saints to a Super Bowl aka Drew Brees this has the earmark of the Chargers!

  50. Cleveland,…. trying to outdo Snyder as the worst owner in the NFL.
    15 years of a losing culture,… they finally have a QB get them a winning record and a playoff win,…and what do they do ?? Dump the QB.
    That’s like Detroit firing Caldwell after getting 3 winning seasons.
    The only double digits for Detroit are in losses each year.

  51. stellarperformance says: March 20, 2022 at 9:29 am Good. Any player that begins to think he is more important than the team or even as important as the team, needs to be sent packing. The most recent team that failed to understand that unwritten law, is the Green Bay Packers ——– you claimed if green bay brought Rodgers back after lying about vaccination “because it’s so personal to you” that you would become a Vikings fan so now who’s lying.
    As for Baker, theres not too many people in their job who would be ok with their boss looking to replace them, talking bad about them and then be happy to come back

  52. The Browns may just keep Baker to humiliate him on the bench. The relationship has soured.

  53. Sunday Swami says:
    March 20, 2022 at 5:46
    ——– you claimed if green bay brought Rodgers back after lying about vaccination “because it’s so personal to you” that you would become a Vikings fan so now who’s lying.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    I did not say that. I’ll always be a Packer fan. I said I could begin to consider becoming a Viking fan if Rodgers retired as a Packer. I also said it was unlikely he would. Get your facts straight.

  54. Wepp, Watson did do very bad adult activities. So guess they got their wish. Watson won’t elevate the Browns, just like he couldn’t elevate the Texans. Watson’s maturity truly showed when he refused to play for the Texans, after signing a long term contract.

  55. So the Browns try and hide their attempt to go after Watson and Mayfield finds out about it, then when it looks like the Browns were eliminated from the Watson sweepstakes they try and make nice with Baker and he’s not supposed to be PO about it, gimme’ a break, there isn’t a man out there with a pair that lays down and takes that nor should they! But according to the comments there seems to be a lot of people out there that if put in Baker’s position would have just rolled over and played dead and taken it without a word. Is that the kind of QB you’d want on your team, one that doesn’t have a pair, NOT ME!

    If the Browns truly don’t think Baker is a leader and is childish they shouldn’t care where he goes and I’d love to see Baker go to the Steelers where he has the opportunity to kick the Browns butts twice a year!

  56. Browns brass were probably thinking “Baker will be okay with this. After all we give him & his wife this cool stadium to live in & invite over all his family & friends”

  57. Haslam isnt a bad owner..he is just the owner that had the money to be able to pay Watson up front. Youd be suprised. I’d guess that 90% of owners would not be able to afford taking 230 mil out of the bank all at once. Assets tied up in too many things. Where haslam has that huge gas company and trucking business..cash money homie…you pair a owner like that and a cap wizard like Andrew berry you can make things happen that other teams can only dream of hate all u want!

  58. Baker ignoring the owners calls is what did it but let’s face it Mayfield was checked out whether they got Watson or not

  59. Mayfield’s available for a song? Oh yeah, Belichick is absolutely making that phone call-

  60. Nobody’s brining up the fact that this was a contract year for Baker and all he had to do was produce a return trip to the playoffs and it would be him getting this exact contract. Soooo, instead of giving it to Baker, they gave it to a pro-bowl seasoned provened QB. For those saying the Browns made a bad move, you would be saying the same thing in a year from now when Baker was the one signing this contract. It’s always a lose-lose with the Browns haters out there.

  61. I went on the Baker bandwagon the moment the team starting to diss him. A really professional team would have kept their traps shut and undertaken the actions they were going to do.

    I hope DeeShawn is a complete failure and becomes the second coming of Typhoid Taylor and the Great Gimmick all wrapped in one. DeeShawn isn’t even a proven winner.

  62. Batons passed from Manziel to Mayfield to Watson. A murderers row of dysfunction.

  63. Poor Baker. I’m vexed- not vexed – by how fans line up to defend the Johnny Manziels, Tim Tebows & Carson Wentzs of the world. The problem is we won’t let them rise or fall on their play.

    We gotta prop them up no matter what. Leave ’em along, let them succeed or fail on their own. Let the market decide.

  64. It’s amazing to me that some fans pin this on Baker. Look, he’s far from perfect in many ways, but the Browns chose him, and they were aware of his personality before drafting him. Also – knowing his personality, they had to know they’d set him off.

    If Baker’s handled this poorly, the Browns have handled this 10x worse. Haslam is an awful owner who does all he can to keep the team as dysfunctional as possible. He learned nothing from Manziel and he will learn nothing from the backlash the team gets for signing Watson.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.