The Cleveland Browns will kick off the mandatory minicamp segment of their offseason next week. New quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is now up to 24 civil suits filed against him for sexual assault, has been in Cleveland for a few weeks getting to know his new team and presumably assuring the front office that everything is totally fine. Old quarterback Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found.
Which comes as no surprise to anybody. Mayfield was done with the Browns as soon as they traded for Watson and gave him a laughable fully-guaranteed $230 million deal. Everybody knows that. Unfortunately for Cleveland, that means any potential trade partners do, too. All the teams who may be interested in taking a flier on Mayfield will play hardball with the Browns to get as good a deal as possible because the Browns have put themselves between a rock and a hard place.
They have to pay Mayfield's salary for 2022 whether they keep him or cut him. They can't have him around for obvious reasons. They don't want to waste a roster spot on a guy who not only won't play but is best suited to be as far away from the team facilities as physically possible. And nobody is leaping to do the franchise front office any favors after they messed with the balance of power in giving Watson a fully-guaranteed mega-contract. The Browns have somehow put themselves in a worse position than the Niners and Jimmy Garoppolo.
All that is to say that Mayfield is still very much on the roster but not at all part of the team, which is why the Browns agreed to excuse his absence from minicamp.
And here's where I suggest the chaos option-- Mayfield should show up, anyway.
Not going to minicamp is merely an exercise in nursing Mayfield's bruised ego and letting the Browns save face. Mayfield obviously has interest in the former but shouldn't have any in the latter. Staying home means Mayfield doesn't have to face the coaching staff that opted for Watson and all of his baggage or the teammates who sided with OBJ over him. But it also means the Browns can avoid any of the awkwardness they caused by trading for Watson without a plan in place for getting rid of Mayfield at the same time.
Why should the Browns get a pass on that? They shouldn't. Mayfield can really stick it to 'em by wandering around on Day 1 of minicamp, grinning ear-to-ear and acting like nothing was wrong, like he's competing for QB1 against Watson. It's not like the team would kick him out. He'd have to run with the backups but it would still be worth it to cause a tremendous level of discomfort for everybody who played a role in how this situation came to be.
Maybe I'm just projecting my desire for all those Browns decision-makers to get their comeuppance. Mayfield would have to sacrifice a lot of his pride to do something like this and we all know that if there's anything professional athletes have in abundance, it is pride. But we also know Mayfield is as petty as they come.
He won't show up. But he should. Just to make everybody sweat a little before he finally gets out of dodge.