From the Press Box: A mess only the Cleveland Browns could make


As we neared the end of the 2021 season, I took the side of the Cleveland Browns as they handled quarterback and 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield had showed a decline in his play (likely due to injury) and had been outspoken against former teammates, the coaching staff and the media.

As the Browns moved into the offseason, they looked to greener pastures and traded their future (three first-round picks, a third, and fourth-round pick) for the former Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson.

Watson has been facing legal issues as a number of female masseuses have charged civil cases against the quarterback for sexual assault. The NFL has yet to announce what the punishment will be, but the range has been anywhere from six games to the whole season.

Obviously that rubbed Mayfield the wrong way and he asked to be traded. Finally, last week, the Browns acquiesced his request and sent him to Carolina for a fifth-round pick. The Browns and the Panthers are also now splitting $15.35 million of his $18.8 million salary. The Panthers will pay $4.85 million, the Browns will pay $10.5 million (the rest was converted to incentives).

In the time-span of four years, the Cleveland Browns have managed to draft a quarterback No. 1 over all, win their first playoff game in 28 years with said quarterback, have a down year and trade the quarterback away for a fifth-round pick and half of his salary.

Making the situation even more Browns-esque, Mayfield will essentially be paid by the Browns to beat the Browns come Week 1 (should he start).

While Mayfield was not the only reason the Browns won returned to relevancy (good coach and team around him), and Mayfield has a bullish personality that can turn some front office members off, I can’t get behind the move.

In an article from The Athletic, writer Jason Lloyd said the Browns viewed Mayfield as “childish and immature.” Going as far as to say his behavior annoyed teammates and divided the locker room. Late last season, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said the Browns wanted “an adult” at quarterback.

I see, so the Browns traded for a quarterback in Watson who still has four remaining sexual misconduct cases on his hands. Not to mention, Watson has been outspoken in the past against his coaching staff in Houston and ownership.

The hypocrisy displayed by the Browns organization has sent them back to being a laughing stock in the NFL.

Once Watson starts throwing touchdowns and winning for the Browns, all of this will go away; even better for Cleveland if Mayfield struggles in Carolina. But until then, the Browns look like a tone-deaf front office that doesn’t have a clue.

John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at or find him on Twitter: @jcl1987.