Baker Mayfield speaks on looming divorce from Browns: 'I feel disrespected'

Baker Mayfield's time in Cleveland came to a sudden and ugly end this offseason. Unsurprisingly, he isn't happy about how it all happened.

The previously silent Mayfield spoke recently on the Ya Neva Know Podcast and didn't hide any of his displeasure regarding the Browns' decision to replace him with Deshaun Watson.

"I feel disrespected," Mayfield said. "One-hundred percent because I was told one thing and they completely did another. That's what I'm in the middle of right now. I got my taste of it because I've had four different head coaches in four years, a bunch of different coordinators.

"Talk about the highs? They always come back. They always come back. But I've had great times my rookie year. I didn't start in the beginning. I came in and got to have fun in the back half of the year. 2019 sucked. 2020 was great, made the playoffs. 2021 was miserable."

As he alluded, Mayfield's time with the Browns was very much tumultuous. The first-overall pick of the 2018 draft saw his first NFL action in Week 3 of his first season, replacing an injured Tyrod Taylor and leading the Browns to their first win in over a calendar year. The future seemed bright for Cleveland and Mayfield, and after the 2019 season ended in massive disappointment, the quarterback ended up delivering the Browns both their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season and their first postseason victory since the 1994 season.

The following year ended up being his undoing. Mayfield suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 and attempted to play through the pain, with his performance suffering. Once seen as a Super Bowl contender, the Browns finished 8-9 and out of the playoffs, and Mayfield was painted as both a scapegoat and a massive question mark for the team moving forward.

As Mayfield struggled, disgruntled Browns fans and followers of the NFL didn't hold back their criticism, frustrating the quarterback who carried the potential of being Cleveland's football savior just a year earlier.

Mayfield didn't take kindly to the negativity.

"I would love to show up to somebody's cubicle and just boo the s--- out of them," Mayfield said. "Watch them crumble."

By the end of another underwhelming campaign, Cleveland was weighing its options and looking for a replacement for Mayfield. When the Browns landed Watson in a blockbuster deal with the Houston Texans, the bridge between the team and Mayfield had already been burned.

Mayfield requested a trade while the Browns were still courting Watson. To this point, he's still on Cleveland's roster with no destination in sight, saying on his podcast appearance, "I'm just looking for stabilization right now."

"I know what I need to do for me to be the best version of me and to be able to lead an organization," Mayfield said. "I'm in a good place right now. I have no clue where I'm going."

Mayfield didn't get much stability during his time in Cleveland, playing for four different head coaches and offensive coordinators in four seasons. He's had the same head coach for each of his last two campaigns (Kevin Stefanski), but has produced vastly different results in that span.

He's hoping he finds such stability with his next team, which remains undetermined, especially after the Colts traded for Matt Ryan.

"This would've been a week-and-a-half ago, I would've said Indianapolis," Mayfield said, adding Seattle is "probably the most likely option."

"Even then, no idea," the QB continued. "I'm ready for the next chapter, the next opportunity because the only one I'm guaranteed with the next spot is one year. I have one more year of a guaranteed contract. I have one year wherever I go, and it's my next interview. It's something to put on my resume for the next job, whether it be I play that year wherever it's gonna be and they extend me for longer or if it's that year and I get picked up somewhere else. I know I have this one year to do as much as I possibly can. It's not extra pressure. It's just… I've been here before."

Mayfield is still on the Browns' roster because he's not a player who will be easily traded. Mayfield is under contract for just one more season (2022) at a fully guaranteed number of roughly $18 million. Most teams seeking quarterbacks have addressed their need, and few are going to be willing to guarantee $18 million to a quarterback who might end up proving to be a one-year rental with questionable upside.

Seattle seems like the best remaining fit, as the Seahawks currently have Drew Lock penciled in as their starter following the massive deal that sent Russell Wilson to Denver. Pete Carroll hasn't indicated he's interested in a long rebuild, but Lock isn't a firm solution under center for a team that is entertaining visions of contention in 2022.

Then again, few teams, if any, will be anxious to strike a deal with Cleveland, which has Watson and Mayfield on its roster and, thus, zero leverage in negotiations. The Browns might need to end up attaching a draft pick to a deal involving Mayfield just to work something out, and Cleveland could ultimately be forced to release Mayfield in order to finalize their ugly divorce.

Regardless of how they split, Mayfield's time in Cleveland is over. There's simply no other scenario in which the two parties proceed productively, regardless of how Stefanski and Browns general manager Andrew Berry position themselves publicly. As Mayfield's comments indicated, it's too toxic to salvage.

Mayfield's arrival in Cleveland signaled a significant change for the franchise, which had cycled through an incredible number of quarterbacks since returning to NFL action in 1999. For four seasons, Mayfield brought the stability he now seeks elsewhere. He believes his efforts won't be forgotten in Cleveland, even as his No. 6 jerseys fill clearance racks throughout northeast Ohio.

"I really, truly, honestly have no regrets of my time in Cleveland of what I tried to give that place," Mayfield said. "True Clevelanders and true Browns fans know that. That's why I can walk away from the whole situation feeling like I did it."

He'll hope to do it again elsewhere. The destination remains unknown.

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