Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is intent on leading this team to Super Bowl glory, but it’s important for veteran players to hold their signal-caller accountable if they feel he slips up.
In his first season with the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield led the team by example and gave Browns fans real hope for the first time in decades. From the moment he took the field to replace an injured Tyrod Taylor, Mayfield has been a star, zipping throws all over the field and showing everyone why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Without Mayfield’s brilliance, the Browns would have never been able to convince arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, Odell Beckham Jr., to join the team in a steal of a trade.
Mayfield’s headstrong leadership and desire to lead by example have made him a fan favorite, in addition to his bordering-elite play on the field. However, some Browns players reportedly took exception to comments Mayfield made about disgruntled skill position player Duke Johnson, whose representation requested a trade this offseason.
The NFL Network’s Michael Silver reports that “several” veterans on the Browns roster talked to Mayfield about those comments in the locker room, and all sides “hashed out their differences”.
Per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot, Mayfield said, “If we have guys that want to be here, they’ll show that, they’ll voice that. Obviously he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not, it’s moving. You can get out of the way or you can join us. so it is what it is.’’
Those were harsh words, even if Mayfield may not have realized how dismissive they came off at the time. Johnson is a talented player who has been underutilized by the Browns, and his spot on the roster became even more tenuous after the Browns controversial decision to sign Kareem Hunt. The former Miami star was well within his right to request a trade, though the Browns haven’t shown any sort of urgency in dealing the versatile running back.
Just 25, Johnson’s future with the Browns remains uncertain due to the weight of the trade request, but he’s still on the roster and can still contribute positively to a team with Super Bowl ambitions. A quarterback potentially siding with the organization against a player is rarely a good idea, and perhaps that’s what the veterans on the Browns were reminding Mayfield; the players need to have each other’s backs no matter what.
On the whole, this is good news for the Browns, because it shows that there’s healthy dialogue in the locker room. Players feel they can approach Mayfield, and Mayfield seems willing to talk to his teammates about his mistakes. This was, overall, a minor issue, and the important takeaway is the give-and-take between quarterback and teammates.
Mayfield is already a leader for the Browns in just his second season, and he’ll be counted on to help this team reach incredible heights in the near future. That means he’ll have to excel on and off the field, and this is an example of how he’ll be tested off of it.