The Baker Mayfield era in Cleveland officially came to a close on Tuesday.
Sure, it technically came to an end in mid-March when the Cleveland Browns sent three No. 1 draft picks to the Houston Texans as part of the trade package for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
But it wasn’t until this week that all the finer points of the transaction were completed with the league office, so it was on Tuesday that Mayfield met with the media for his introductory news conference with the Panthers.
Baker Mayfield speaks to the media https://t.co/L4K9YC0rHh— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) July 12, 2022
And while Mayfield said he is ready for a fresh start - which is probably true of everyone involved - Mayfield addressed a few lingering questions about his tenure with the Browns, starting with the reputation that some have pinned on him (quote via panthers.com):
“There’s always a preconceived notion about anybody, maybe with myself a little more so than others. But I just look forward to getting in the building and letting guys know how much I truly love football and how much fun I have doing it and the process. So some of that just comes with time; some of it comes with having lunch and talking to guys, not during practice. Every situation is different, and I’ve always tried to be a guy who gravitates toward others and elevates their game and who they are, and just try to poke fun at people and bring the best out of them. That’s just how I’ve always been. It just takes being around the building for that to happen.”
Even though Mayfield said he was “shocked” that the Browns decided to pursue Watson in the offseason, he continued to avoid being overly negative, unlike some fans, about his time in Cleveland (quote via NFL.com):
“No animosity towards Cleveland. It’s a good football town that gave me the first four years of my career and thankful for those trials and tribulations, all the challenges, a lot to learn from and look back on and reflect. Just really focused on right now and being a Carolina Panther and pumped up to do so.”
While Tuesday marked a milestone in the quest for Mayfield to turn his attention toward his new team and the Browns to turn theirs to Watson, there is still one final chapter to be written.
The Browns open the regular season on September 11 by traveling to Carolina to face the Panthers, where Mayfield will more than likely be on the opposite side as the starting quarterback, a scenario not lost on Mayfield (quote via panthers.com):
“I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you that’s not one I’ve marked on the calendar already. One, that’s not who I am. To me, it’s about winning games. Whoever we have marked on the schedule, I’m going to try to win. Obviously, this one has a little more history and personal meaning, but for me, it’s about winning and setting the tone for the rest of the year, and however I can help this team do that, I’m going to do.”
There are several key members of the Browns defense that probably have that date circled as well, so Mayfield and the Panthers better come prepared that day.
Then, once the final whistle blows, the Browns can truly close the book on Mayfield’s tenure in Cleveland.