Baker Mayfield did everything asked of him by the Cleveland Browns. He played through numerous injuries that dragged down his production, fighting an uphill battle down the stretch for the Browns. Ultimately that proved to be too often unwinnable and the franchise took a step back. This moved brass to look forward to a brighter future with Deshaun Watson despite the swirling of red flags that should blot the sun for anyone curious enough to look up.
Reducing the Watson situation down to football terms seems trivial yet it led to tremendous strife for a fanbase desperate to taste victory again, in-house public relations staff with a losing hand and, crucially for Mayfield. A throwback gunslinger not afraid to fail and make mistakes, the quarterback has some obvious shortcomings. He also has all the intangibles and a track record that proves he can win. Not always in the most beautiful ways imaginable, yet a win is a win — especially if it comes in January.
All indications were that the marriage was over, even if one party couldn't technically move out. So he waited for a lifeline and a greener pasture. His day came today as Cleveland dealt him to the Carolina Panthers for some glorified IOUs. His next day will come in Week 1 as the scheduling gods have granted us a Browns-Panthers matchup.
Now, obviously, there's the Sam Darnold situation. On July 6 it's far too early to predict who will emerge from that competition. If it is, in fact, Mayfield, he'll have an opportunity to write several chapters of his next story in a single sitting. And when one considers all the factors at play, it feels natural to root for him, even if he's done some things to make it harder to root for him.
The simple read is this: Mayfield wasn't rewarded for sacrificing his body and his numbers for his team. Worse, he was punished. It didn't feel fair the moment Watson was added and continued to feel unfair throughout this awkward process. Any change would have been beneficial and the cupboard is not completely bare under Matt Rhule.
Good see a guy get a life preserver, especially when he's proven how hard he'll fight to keep his head above the water.