Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield posted what looked like a farewell letter to Cleveland on his Twitter and Instagram accounts late Tuesday.
Shortly after the Browns wrapped up their meeting with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on Tuesday night, Mayfield thanked Cleveland and admitted he doesn’t know what his NFL future holds.
If the Browns were to complete a trade for the controversial Watson, they would obviously trade Mayfield to another team.
But even if Watson chooses to waive his no-trade clause for one of his other suitors – the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons – and thus leaves the Browns hanging in the balance , Mayfield will probably want to leave Cleveland.
As of Tuesday night, Mayfield hadn’t asked for a trade, a league source told the Akron Beacon Journal, but there’s obviously some hard feelings over the franchise’s pursuit of Watson.
Watson was accused of sexual misconduct or sexual assault by two dozen women during massage appointments. On Friday, a grand jury decided that Watson would not face criminal charges. He still faces 22 civil lawsuits and a likely suspension from the NFL, but the grand jury declined to indict Watson started the contest for the services of the Pro Bowl quarterback three times.
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The Saints and Panthers met Watson on Monday in Houston before the Browns did the same on Tuesday. The Falcons have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, The NFL Network reported. Each team had to submit a trade proposal to the Texans to secure a meeting with Watson, ESPN reported.
The 2018 first draft pick, Mayfield struggled a lot last year as the Browns went 8-9 and missed the playoffs despite starting the season with Super Bowl expectations. He played the vast majority of the season with a torn non-throwing left shoulder labrum suffered in Week 2 and was unable to build on his successful 2020 season. He underwent shoulder surgery on January 19.
If the Browns can’t land Watson and still trade Mayfield, they’ll look for another starting quarterback.
Like Watson, the Browns view Las Vegas’ Derek Carr as an upgrade over Mayfield, but the Raiders could commit Carr to a new contract rather than deal him. Other potential trade targets include Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers) and Gardner Minshew (Philadelphia Eagles). Marcus Mariota (Raiders) and Jameis Winston (Saints) remain available in free agency, which officially begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The Browns also have the 13th overall pick in the April 28-30 NFL Draft and could seek a quarterback sooner than expected. Liberty’s Malik Willis and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett are expected to be picked in the first round.
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Mayfield announced on January 25 that he would be taking a social media hiatus due to his “toxic” nature.
But Mayfield was forced to take to social media on Tuesday night to distribute this letter to Browns fans, complete with the caption “With many uncertainties, here is where my head and my heart lie”:
“The last 4 years haven’t changed my life since I heard my name called in the draft to go to Cleveland,” Mayfield wrote. “This is not a message with any hidden meaning. This is strictly to thank the City of Cleveland for embracing my family and I. We have created many memories and shared in the growth of this process through all the ups. and the lows.
“I have no idea what happens next, which is the significance of the silence I’ve had for the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is to do trust in God’s plan throughout this process.
“I’ve given this franchise everything I’ve got. It’s something I’ve always done at every step and every level. And that won’t change wherever I take my next shot. Whatever it happens i just want to say thank you to the fans who really embraced who i am and the mentality that fit so well with the hard working people of this town.
“Cleveland will always be part of [wife] Emilie and my story. And we will always be grateful for the impact it has had and will have in our lives.”
Nate Ulrich can be contacted at [email protected].