The Browns are scheduled to begin their minicamp June 14. Deshaun Watson is on track to participate with his new team, but the Browns ensured Wednesday their previous starting quarterback will not.
Baker Mayfield will be excused from Cleveland’s minicamp, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot tweets, describing this as a mutual decision. The parties decided this will be the best course of action, one that will prevent Mayfield from being fined for his absence and stop further distractions — amid a slew of quarterback-related turmoil for the Browns — from taking place.
This comes shortly after the 49ers excused Jimmy Garoppolo from their minicamp. Garoppolo still has a chance to return to the 49ers, despite the team preferring to trade its four-plus-year starter. Mayfield, who requested a trade in March, is almost certainly done with the Browns. Wednesday’s decision offers further evidence its four-year starter will move on, regardless of Watson’s status.
Mayfield has been away from the Browns for an extended stretch, having made his trade request just before the team’s trade for Watson and shocking financial commitment. The Browns have engaged in trade talks with the Panthers, and the former No. 1 overall pick has been linked to the Seahawks. Neither NFC team has blinked, even with both having questionable-at-best quarterback situations. At least, that is where the Panthers and Seahawks stand presently. Things could change if those teams determine Mayfield is a necessary upgrade, but the holding pattern has persisted for several weeks. The Browns will need to pick up almost all of Mayfield’s $18.9MM fifth-year option salary; they are willing to pay a sizable chunk of it.
Cleveland cutting Mayfield would save little, since he could sign with Carolina or Seattle for the league minimum (due to offset language) and stick the Browns with $17MM-plus in dead money. The Browns have Jacoby Brissett positioned as Watson insurance. With lawsuits continuing to pile up against the Pro Bowl passer, a lengthy Brissett stretch seems certain for the 2022 Browns. Mayfield should be expected to be with another team by the time a (presumably) Brissett-quarterbacked Cleveland squad debuts.
For now, the disgruntled QB will finish his shoulder rehab away from the Browns. Mayfield is expected to be ready for full participation in training camp.