Baker Mayfield opens up about extent of shoulder injury

NFL: OCT 17 Cardinals at Browns
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For teams assessing whether to pursue quarterback Baker Mayfield, the challenge becomes understanding the differences between two good seasons (2018 and 2020) and two bad ones (2019 and 2021). It’s a little easier to understand why things went poorly for Mayfield in 2021.

His left shoulder was messed up, badly.

Yes, it was his own fault for trying to make a tackle after throwing a Week Two interception against the Texans. It happened in the first half of a September game. Definitely not the occasion to throw caution to the wind by hurling his body into the fray. The shoulder injury plagued him for the rest of the year, and it clearly affected his performance.

Consider this quote from his recent appearance on the Ya Neva Know podcast: “So I tore my labrum completely, like full front and like basically 90 percent in the back. That was Week Two. I did that in the first half. Played the rest of the game, I was fine. . . . Four weeks later, we were playing the Cardinals, and I dislocated my shoulder again. But I dislocated it so bad and at a different angle that the bone, like the humerus that goes up into your shoulder socket, like the big bone right here [that] comes up into your ball and socket and it forced its way out. And I fractured the bone because it wasn’t gonna be a clean exit. So I fractured the bone. So when I had the labrum done and that fracture, the inflammation and everything, I had no function in my left shoulder. And we were going into a Thursday game that week. Monday, I couldn’t lift my arm. When I couldn’t raise my arm, I was like, ‘I can’t do this.'”

To his credit, Mayfield spent much of the 2021 season downplaying the injury. Indeed, even when he knew he wouldn’t be able to play in a Thursday night game against the Broncos, he kept speaking as if he could and would.

On the same Monday that he decided he “can’t do this,” he said that the arm “feels like shit” but that he believes he’ll be able to play through it. The next day, he said he expects to play in the Thursday night game. His quotes created the clear impression that he believed he could play with the injury — and that he regarded it as his call and his call alone.

I have to make that decision,” Mayfield said at the time. “Only I know how my body feels. If anyone questions whether I am hindering the team and going out there injured, that is just not right. It is my decision. I get to say whether I am able to play or not, and that is just how it is.”

We now know that, before he said that, he already had decided, “I can’t do this.” The only way to reconcile his past words with his present words is that, in the moment, players like Mayfield are wired to play. It’s an admirable trait.

And he played as much as he could. That quality — the determination and the toughness and the refusal to make excuses — needs to be weighed by any team that is wondering whether it wants to roll the dice with Mayfield. While there clearly are some drawbacks (otherwise, Cleveland wouldn’t have decided to move on from him), there definitely are some positives.

41 responses to “Baker Mayfield opens up about extent of shoulder injury

  1. In hindsight, could Mayfield have gone to the Browns mid-season and said, “I can try to play through this, but I need some financial assurances via a long term deal” before I keep playing through this?

  2. Man…Cleveland did Baker dirty. In hindsight he should have sat out 3/4 of the season and took care of his arm since cleveland had no loayalty to him.

    Guy was pretty good when he didnt have a game injured shoulder.

    I hope Baker lands a sweet home and gets to give it back to cleveland.

  3. Why sign bake when there are several qualified adults available in the upcoming draft? Ill tell you why, because Haslam’s paying him 18m next year to play somewhere else! … and just like that, the buzzards begin to circle. And by buzzards, i mean pete carroll

  4. I hope the Seahawks can pick him up ,he’d be a lot better than what we got now..that’s including Geno…

  5. If Mayfield had chose to sit out most of the season to try to heal
    He would have been attacked for being soft and not willing to play in pain. Clearly a no-win situation
    And the fans in Cleveland don’t really deserve his talent there.
    Cleveland will continue to be the Bridesmaid and never the Bride…

  6. This is like staging a home before you put it on the market, or paying for a sweet detail before you sell your car, right?

  7. Baker is just such an arrogant little s—! Like his planting the flag crap, and his “I don’t care if people like me or not” attitude. Well guess what… read the comments here and you’ll see people really DON’T like you, so there’s that. He’s a short, so-so talented QB who is going to continue being a lightning rod with these silly interviews forever, or his tweets, or other social media “pronouncements,” so whoever takes on this egomaniac better be prepared for his self-centered attitude. And yes, for God’s sake, PLEASE stop with those really lame commercials!!!!! His acting is as bad as his QB play.

  8. I would love him in Detroit. Cleveland did him bad. Don’t care what anyone says. Have your new QB. I hope Detroit makes a move. I actually think many teams will, they just know damn well that the Browns have to pay his salary and have no leverage because the way they handled everything is idiotic.

  9. The problem though in football is that it’s all about being a tough guy, and being perceived as a tough guy. So if he says I’m hurt, and doesn’t play then his toughness is questioned, and people in the media start saying he looks weak. If His shoulder was so bad he couldn’t lift his arm then he should have leaked it to the media, and gone on injured reserve immediately. There comes a time when playing hurt only hurts your team, and possibly your future. Here he is now trying to explain his play when he shouldn’t have too, but he chose to play with one arm so it doesn’t matter he’s stuck now

  10. Sound either like he man at work or someone worried about being permanently replaced. Like if the back up can do it then they dont have to renew his contract or can low ball him. For sure his agent had to be assisting him with his options… get treatment now or tough it out.

  11. I do know that the players via contract have the right to determine when they are healthy to play. Thus is the trainers and doctors clear someone to play the player still can say no I’m not ready yet and that’s that.
    Why do this, some do it to tell the team, I dont like the fact I ddint get that extention so I’m not busting my butt but rather planning my exit, a healthy exit for mo money. aka Z Smith

  12. Strange timing to talk about this now. Quite frankly, I find it hard to feel sorry for Mayfield. He’s thumbed his nose up at everyone and didn’t care whether they liked it or not and now all of a sudden he’s alienated his entire team and wonders why nobody likes him. He was like that in college too. You reap what you sow. Time to take a good hard look at yourself and realize you need to change and grow up. If not his NFL career could be over.

  13. But here’s the question. Did he attempt to play through the injury because he knew if Keenum had success it would lower his value when negotiating a new deal?

  14. He sounds like he fell victim to his own tough guy mentality… that, or he’s embellishing to make excuses… either way, he sounds weak.

  15. While I feel that Mayfield is often his own worst enemy, no one can question that the guy has no shortage of guts. Browns are just a bad, bad organization, and will likely have no choice but to cut Mayfield rather than pay big money to two QBs. The Browns dumpster fire will continue burning long after he leaves.

  16. “I hope the Seahawks can pick him up ,he’d be a lot better than what we got now..that’s including Geno…”
    As long as we can get him on a rental agreement with incentives. I’d rather pick a QB in a later round and let Geno go.

  17. 0-16 before Baker. Now they have a decent team, so they decided to give away 6 picks and 240M for Watson.

    No picks, no cap space… 0-17…. here we go!

  18. Hey trollingforjusstice, if Mayfield would’ve sat out a few more games the Browns would’ve been in the playoffs. There’s a fine line between moxy and being selfish. As far as the Brown’s fans not deserving his talent, the fans don’t make the decisions, management does!!

  19. wolverineinnc says:
    April 14, 2022 at 10:47 am
    Baker is just such an arrogant little s—! Like his planting the flag crap, and his “I don’t care if people like me or not” attitude. Well guess what… read the comments here and you’ll see people really DON’T like you, so there’s that. He’s a short, so-so talented QB who is going to continue being a lightning rod with these silly interviews forever, or his tweets, or other social media “pronouncements,” so whoever takes on this egomaniac better be prepared for his self-centered attitude. And yes, for God’s sake, PLEASE stop with those really lame commercials!!!!! His acting is as bad as his QB play.
    I agree. His confidence is based on an inflated view of himself. That’s why he should distance himself from the media and concentrate on the next chapter of his football career.

  20. This is on coaching and the expectations of the FO and the organization as a whole. Stephansky should have benched him. But the expectations were so high going into the season and the implications of turning to a backup for a major chunk of the season so dire that they chose the worst option: let Baker be the sole decision maker regarding his playing or not. Passive management is poor management.

  21. No one attributing the relative turnaround of the Browns to Baker during his tenure watched any games during that period. The defense improved every year, reaching top 5 last year, and they surrounded him with talent like Jarvis Landry, OBJ, Chubb, and Njoku.

    Baker didn’t make lemonade out of lemons by any means. The Browns have simply gotten better across the board.

  22. So many easy lessons learned from the past if you are listening…..
    Try this Baker:

    It’s best to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.

  23. Where were the trainers, doctors and coaches during all this? They are the guilty parties here, not Mayfield.

  24. One could applaud Baker for trying to tough it out and keep playing, but after the second incident he should have had it repaired then. They (Browns management) obviously don’t care about him so he should have been looking out for himself. Now he finds himself in this predicament and some teams may be hesitant on him because they aren’t sure how he is recovering.

  25. His agent could have told him to get the surgery, but then his replacement would have come on and the team would have played better and Baker might never get another starting gig. So here we are.

  26. There’s a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. Every player in the NFL plays hurt. When it comes to injuries you have to look out for yourself. Playing injured can hurt your health and your career. I live near Cle an the local talk during this past season was “why do they keep running this guy out there? He’s a shell of himself”. He could have had the shoulder repaired an gone out there in his fifth year that was already guaranteed an earned a new deal. Instead he hurt his stock an probably cost himself millions. Sometimes Baker is his own worst enemy.

  27. If you listen to the podcast, Baker comes off like he is a regular guy, a Cleveland guy. Biggest mistake was Baker not sitting out the season to get healthy. If he had done that, I believe he would still be the Browns QB.

  28. Any headcoach/offensive coordinator worth a damn would have noticed the drastic decline in Mayfield’s play and made the call to bench their injured QB. Anyone who has been around sports knows that 99% of those players who suffer an injury are going to proclaim that they can still play…it is simply part of an athlete’s competitive nature.

    The Browns had a healthy veteran QB backing up Mayfield, yet NO ONE in the Browns organization had the courage to stand up to their “hands on” owner and tell him the truth, that Mayfield should not be playing. Mayfield set himself up to be the fall guy and true to form, “blow it up Jimmy” did what he has done since buying the Browns…took it upon himself to single someone else out and make him their fall guy.

  29. All sides do some growing up. Assuming a “source close to the Browns” wasn’t a peanut vendor, if a higher-up actually said they needed “an adult,”-how childish is that? And I’m sorry, Stefanski’s decision to leave Hudson III alone on TJ Watt? Maybe you’re trying to gauge if you need to resign Hubbard, or if the rook could handle backup in’22, but that audition was over midway thru Q1. The rest just felt vindictive. And I get it. Baker may well have cost us a playoff birth by forcing his way into the lineup. But still. Regardless, if you take out the Freddie Kitchens debacle, and a year plagued by injury, Baker’s easily a top 15 QB, and that despite 4 coaches & 4 OCs in 4 yrs, so who’s to say where his ceiling is? I’d rather have Mayfield, who’s at the least competent when healthy, than take a flyer on this QB class. At least you’re guaranteed not to over-invest in a complete bust, and you’re no less likely to find your future franchise QB.

  30. Baker obviously has his faults, no one is arguing that. But there’s so much hypocrisy here. NFL players are expected to play hurt and it happens all the time. We hear about how tough or gritty an injured player is for staying on the field. But now Mayfield is the bad guy for playing hurt?

    To my mind, of course he would say he can play. But everyone in the world could see his performance was affected by his shoulder. The TEAM should have sat him – that’s their responsibility. The HC is supposed to be in charge. Are the Browns saying that Stefanski is so ineffectual that players dictate when they play or don’t? That’s utter nonsense.

    Mayfield doesn’t help himself at times, but the Browns are clearly in dire need of some “adults” as well. Name the last time a team publicly trashed their starting QB?

  31. What does is say about the Browns to allow Mayfield to continue to play through those shoulder injuries? They should have shut him down the rest of the season after he had the dislocation. Then after he toughs it out and almost gets you back to the playoffs you replace him? I understand it is a business but what he did for the Browns last year was legendary. I usually side with the team when it comes to team vs. players but he did more than he should have to get this team to win and his reward is to be replaced? Not that I had much respect for the Browns organization before but they just went down a notch from rung 1 to rung 0. The owner, gm, coach and trainers should all be ashamed of themselves. Not that I was ever a big Mayfield fan but without question he deserved better than that.

  32. Baker is making progress. At least he’s not throwing the medical staff under the bus.

  33. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Watson had a horrible year after taking 2021 off and Mayfield had the best year of his career after plying hurt in 2021? Say what you want but Cleveland handled (and are still handling) his exit poorly…really poorly.

  34. Baker is the one who screwed the Browns by refusing to take a seat. This roster is too good to be missing the playoffs. His stubbornness was the cause of it.

  35. The coaching staff and/or front office could have shut him down at any time, his injury wasn’t a secret. But they didn’t. Week after week he was chosen as the best option by the Browns staff, despite the injury. And Mayfield didn’t tap out; he was a good soldier, week after week. It’s on the training staff and the coaching staff to protect the players from themselves. From Pop Warner to the NFL, there’s a duty to protect the players. You can’t encourage a warrior-like mentality, and then blame the player for having a warrior-like mentality.

  36. Browns should have put Mayfield on IR no later than after the Cardinals’ game, and given him several weeks to partially heal. They always could have then determined that he had healed sufficiently to resume playing, or to shut him for the season.
    It is admirable that Mayfield tried to play through the pain, but this was not just about pain management: he was physically compromised. There was a fully healthy, hand-picked back-up available, to who the Browns were paying $7 or $8M…why not use him?
    Also, there has been little mention that BM also suffered numerous lower-body injuries that limited his already-limited mobility and further compromised his throwing.
    Mayfield’s toughness and hubris, combined with the coaching and medical staffs’ misinterpretation of the injuries’ severity really torpedoed Mayfield’s career.

  37. My guess is Baker or his agent told the Browns that if they didn’t sign him to an extension, and he was medically cleared to start, they had to let him play or he wouldn’t resign after year 5 (assuming the team picked up his option). That is leverage. Do you extend a QB you’re not totally sold on? Do you pick up the option for a guy who might have a great 5th year, then bolt? Do you not pick it up, and risk him being great elsewhere? Or do you just let him play? Outside of pain, there was no real downside for Baker to play through injury. If they squeaked into the playoffs, he’s the QB who twice took them to the dance in 4 yrs, and the team almost has to extend him. If he doesn’t, the injury excuses his decreased production, and he gets credit for being “gritty.” So, with no extension in hand, there was every reason for Baker’s camp to force the issue. I suspect they did. Don’t really blame them, but it pretty clearly frayed relations.

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