Sunday, August 7, 2022

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski sends message about Baker Mayfield encounter

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There has been much speculation about the relationship between Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield, but the skipper wished his former QB well in his first comments on the situation since the trade.

The Browns endured a lengthy, ugly divorce with Mayfield this offseason after being traded for Deshaun Watson. Mayfield was eventually dealt to the Carolina Panthers, who will see the Browns in Week 1. Stefanski wished Mayfield well with his new squad but didn’t want to speculate on whether they’ll see him in the opener.

“I find [Browns GM Andrew Berry] and Carolina worked very hard on it for weeks. As already mentioned, this was a unique situation. I wish him all the best, I think he’s in a really good place.” Stefanski to reporters from the training camp on July 27th. “We’ll see – I’m not going to speak for Coach Rhule about who’s playing. We will have time to talk about these things.”

While Stefanski is never one to air his grievances publicly, reports following Mayfield’s trade indicated some significant behind-the-scenes tensions.

After the Browns were beaten 45-7 by the Patriots, Stefanski missed a meeting with his QB and the Browns skipper leaned towards pressing instead Situation with Myles Garrettwho very publicly shot the coaching staff for lack of adjustments.

“In one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ moments, Stefanski never missed a meeting again and privately threw a harsh spotlight on his quarterback during film sessions from that day on,” reported The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd.

Mayfield is currently competing with Sam Darnold for the starting gig in Carolina. Darnold — the No. 3 pick in the same draft in which Mayfield was the No. 1 overall — was last season’s starter for the Panthers. Mayfield said he was looking forward to the competition.

“My goal is to be the best quarterback I can be and help this team win, and that’s why I’m happy to be in Carolina,” Mayfield said in his opening press conference with the Panthers. “I feel like the team is very close to being really good. We just have to put the pieces together and come together as a team and however that happens I will do my job and fill whatever role is expected of me and be a great leader and a great teammate.”

Mayfield is looking for a year of recovery after completing 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. While Mayfield was inconsistent, at least part of it can be attributed to a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, which he suffered while trying to make a tackle against the Texans in Week 2.

With Mayfield out of the picture now, the Browns still have some turmoil at the quarterback position while awaiting the NFL’s decision on Watson’s potential suspension.

If Watson is out, the Browns plan to start veteran Jacoby Brissett, who was signed this offseason with the intention of being the best option if Watson is unavailable.

“Jacoby is our backup quarterback. If Deshaun isn’t available, Jacoby is the starter,” Stefanski told reporters.

The Browns are still looking to integrate Watson on offense but will look to even out practice reps with the first team in preparation for the possibility of Brissett having to start.

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