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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Palmore

Coming off his worst game as a pro, what is Baker Mayfield's future in Cleveland?

In a game the Cleveland Browns desperately needed to keep their division title hopes alive, Baker Mayfield played what was probably his worst game as the starting quarterback for the Browns. His final stats ended up being 222 yards passing with two touchdowns and a season high four interceptions. There was obviously some controversy with the officiating, but it's no excuse for Mayfield's poor play in a game his team desperately needed. On the season, Baker has only 15 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions with only 2,825 yards passing. This year was supposed to be Baker's year to prove to the Browns he deserves a long term contract extension and for a team that many thought had a legitimate shot to reach the Superbowl, the season has been a total disappointment.

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In the 2018 draft, the Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the 1st overall pick after all of the success he had at the University of Oklahoma which included winning a Heisman Trophy. In his first season with the team, it looked like the Browns finally found their franchise quarterback as Mayfield threw for 3,725 yards and set the record for most touchdown passes thrown by a rookie quarterback with 27. (LA Chargers QB Justin Herbert broke this record with 31 passing touchdowns in his rookie season). The year after Cleveland joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only two teams to finish a season 0-16, the Browns saw their record improve to 7-8-1 under Baker Mayfield and the future looked to be bright.

In the offseason after Mayfield's rookie season, the Browns made a huge move when they traded for then superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to help stack the deck on the offensive side. Beckham was reunited with his college teammate Jarvis Landry and Cleveland entered the season with high expectations to make a playoff push with their revamped offensive roster. Instead, the season started with a 43-13 blowout loss over the Tennessee Titans and things didn't get much better afterwards as Cleveland finished with a 6-10 record and fired head coach Freddie Kitchens after one season. Mayfield regressed from his rookie year throwing for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns, and a career high 21 interceptions.

Image provided by Total Pro Sports

Following the disappointing outing Cleveland had in Baker's second year, the Browns made another head coaching change and hired Kevin Stefanski after his long career as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for the Vikings. Year three was much more successful for Baker and the Browns as Cleveland went 11-5 and upset the 12-4 Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. In the divisional round, the Browns lost a close game to the Kansas City Chiefs. Head coach Kevin Stefanski was also named AP NFL Coach of the Year. In year three, Baker threw for 3,563 yards with 26 touchdown passes and a career low eight interceptions. Many attribute Baker's success that year to being free of not having to force feed Odell Beckham Jr. as the receiver was lost for the season due to an ACL injury. However, it is clear that Odell was far from the main problem with Baker's inconsistent play.

Following the success of the Cleveland Browns in the 2020-21 season, there were high expectations coming into this season. However, the year has been filled with nothing but drama and disappointment. It started with the controversy with the fit and lack of production with Odell Beckham Jr. with the team. Multiple players from other teams and athletes across other sports were calling for the Browns to "Free OBJ" because the receiver was receiving criticism that was extremely unfair. There have also been incidents of Baker being called out by parents of his teammates (Mainly OBJ and Kareem Hunt). The Browns are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, but the team currently sits at 7-8 and is currently fighting of their playoff lives.

Baker Mayfield's career so far has been filled with inconsistencies and teams pay big money to quarterbacks who can be trusted on and off the field. So far, Baker Mayfield has not at all proven he can be trusted with the responsibility of being a franchise quarterback.

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