the Trials and tribulations of one Baker Mayfield

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sigh Oh Baker... what a difference a year makes...

Let it be known I was skeptical when the Browns drafted Backer as the #1 overall pick in 2018. My co-hosts will all agree I was not happy when the Browns drafted him #1 overall with all of the other talented QBs available in that draft, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson to be specific, but the Browns went with Baker. Hi rookie season he was put in week 3 against the Jets and brought them back for a come-from-behind victory and thus began Baker-Mania in Cleveland. This would last for the remainder of the 2018 season and the Browns finished the season 7-8-1 despite firing their head coach midseason, they went 5-2 over the last 8 weeks of the season and generated pure excitement for the offseason. 2019 was a letdown, they finished 6-10 and most of the blame was laid on Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, and not Baker, causing ownership to revamp the entire front office and coaching staff... Enter Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski made a name for himself in Minnesota as an Offensive genius, taking the Vikings to the brink with Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins as quarterbacks, journeymen QBs at best... The Browns made Stefanski their head coach and Andrew Berry their General Manager, thus ushering in a new era in Cleveland. the 2020 season was a dream for this Browns fan, where Cleveland, with Baker at the helm and Stefanski leading the way, made the playoffs for the first time in nearly 20 years, actually winning a playoff game IN PITTSBURGH, before falling to the Chiefs in the divisional round. The hype leading up to the 2021 season was huge, and most pundits from ESPN, FOX, et al were all picking the Browns to win not only the division but to go deep into the playoffs and compete for a championship. But it was not to be... Baker suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in week 2 of the season (later to be revealed he also had a break in that shoulder) and the Browns suffered mediocrity once again as they had for the last 20 years, finishing with a dismal 8-9 record and missing the playoffs. Most pundits (and fans) pointed at Baker as the reason for the Browns not fulfilling their pre-season promise, and I feel, this is acceptable blame, as Baker was never the same after the injury and as it turns out, his ego would not allow himself to be sidelined, or to have the surgery needed to correct the injury during the season and instead, as it turned out, sealing his fate as the future of the Cleveland Browns.

After 4 years, Baker's time in Cleveland is done, due in part to his performance last year, and his actions off the field after the season was over this year. His ego has gotten in the way of him being signed to an extension and a big-money contract. the Browns do not have a trade partner for him as of this writing and it doesn't appear that anyone wants him. The Browns now have traded for Deshaun Watson who comes with his own baggage and potential suspension in 2022. Baker is no longer in the Browns' plans moving forward, and he will not be the backup to Watson either. The relationship has been permanently broken and the Browns will either trade him or release him, eating the guaranteed salary on the last year of his rookie contract (18.8 million). Baker, along with players like Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Miles Garrett, and yes, even Odell Beckham Jr, changed the culture in Cleveland during their tenure, and the ripples of that change will still be in place going into 2022, because the franchise has had a taste of success, and they don't plan on losing it anytime soon. The addition of Watson will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of Browns fans (Including this one) and despite that, the age-old adage remains... Winning cures all... If the Browns start winning next season, a lot of Browns fans that left because of Watson will start coming back in droves. It's a sad state of how the modern NFL works, but past experience has shown that despite having players of questionable character on the roster, winning does in fact solve all pain and dislike of those on the roster.

I wish Baker well... I thank him for changing the culture in Cleveland and I hope wherever he lands, he is successful...


Join me and my cohosts @jongolson, Ken Costlow, and Eliot "Big E" Lomba each and every Sunday night at 7:30 PM Eastern time for The Sports Nerds! 90 minutes of sports talk, trash talk and laughs as we discuss the week in sports.

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