The Cleveland Browns quarterback controversy that never was appears to have come to a predictable conclusion.
The Browns met with quarterback Baker Mayfield’s people on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and reinforced that Mayfield will indeed be QB1 when the Browns open the regular season in September, according to Mary Kay Cabot at cleveland.com.
The #Browns and Baker Mayfield's reps met at the #NFLCombine as scheduled on Thursday, and reinforced the Browns plans to start him in '22 and not replace him with a veteran, sources tell clevelanddotcom https://t.co/7BuV3XWktb— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 3, 2022
In addition, the Browns have no plans to bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Mayfield for the starting job.
So no headline-grabbing trade with the Green Bay Packers for Aaron Rodgers or the Seattle Seahawks. No “picking up the phone and calling” the Houston Texans about Deshaun Watson. No bailing out the San Francisco 49ers for Jimmy Garoppolo or the Minnesota Vikings for Kirk Cousins. No taking the bait that sitting on the bench in Buffalo suddenly turned Mitch Trubisky into a starting quarterback.
Instead, the Browns will enter a fifth season with Mayfield, firm in their belief that with the torn labrum in his left, non-throwing, shoulder has been surgically repaired, Mayfield will return to being the quarterback that set the rookie record for touchdown passes in 2018 and led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020.
Along the way, general manager Andrew Berry will likely rebuild the wide receiver room with one or two dynamic players in the upcoming NFL Draft, to give the passing game the type of boost that was lacking last season as wide receiver Jarvis Landry dealt with a series of injuries and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was more concerned with getting out of town that actually helping the team win.
On the coaching side, head coach Kevin Stefanski and the offensive staff will get to work incorporating those news players, while welcoming back running back Kareem Hunt, whose absence due to injury put a major hit on the offense.
Most importantly, they will work to figure out what else was wrong with Mayfield besides the injuries last season, specifically how to get Mayfield comfortable when opposing defenses focus on keeping him in the pocket, a point that Stefanski emphasized during his media session at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday (quote via The Beacon Journal):
“If teams are not going to let you get on the perimeter, there’s still ways to run play action and try and win from the pocket. If they’re not going to let you get on the perimeter, you’ve got to find ways to make them pay from the pocket.”
There will be plenty of time for the Browns to work on that during an offseason of Organized Team Activities, minicamps both voluntary and mandatory, training camp and the preseason.
Now that the Browns have put the “quarterback question” to rest for 2022, there is nothing left to do but get to work to ensure they are not making a mistake.