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The Quick Rise And Disastrous Fall Of Baker Mayfield
In just one calendar year, it went from everything to nothing for Baker Mayfield.
The former Heisman Trophy winner and former Oklahoma walk-on entered the NFL ready to take the league by storm. Drafted with the number one overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, he was sure to turn the franchise around.
The long, long list of failed experiments at the quarterback position looked to be finally coming to an end, and the world was sure he would be the guy throwing the football in brown and orange for the next decade.
After an 11-5 season in 2020 and leading the Browns to their first playoff win in forever, everything changed.
All it took was a lingering shoulder injury, wide receiver drama, and, of course, poor quarterback play for the young quarterback's life and career to change for good.
The Rookie Season
Where should we even begin?
The improbable comeback win against the Jets, delivering the franchise their first win in over a season. The rookie touchdown record. A season that while it might not have ended in a playoff berth, it was a season that gave the city and the great fans of the Browns hope that they finally got their guy.
Then, January 9, 2019 came around. Yet another day Browns fans were sure would catapult them in the same upward direction they thought Mayfield was taking them. Little did they know, it was a day that would haunt them.
The Freddie Kitchens Experiment
While Freddie Kitchens may have been at calling plays for Mayfield, he was not a good heach coach, and he was never going to be.
Just two months after signing Kitchens as their new head coach, the franchise made another move that was supposed to be "franchise altering", trading for superstar wide reciever Odell Beckham Jr. We all know how that ended.
The Browns proceeded to go 6-10 in 2020, despite all the buzz and all of the hype surrounding their quarterback fresh off a dominate rookie season. Kitchens, of course, was a "one-and-done" head coach, as he was fired after the Browns brutal season.
The Magical Season That Had Everyone Believing
Exit Freddie Kitchens, enter Kevin Stefanski. Goodbye 6-10, hello 11-5.
The Browns went from feeling so far away to not only making the playoffs, but winning their first playoff game in decades.
Mayfield looked the part, the defense had much improved, and their new head coach ended up being the NFL Coach of The Year.
While there were still a few question marks surrounding Mayfield and his abilities, at the time there were no signs that he could possibly be replaced in the near future.
Losing to the Chiefs in the playoffs ended a magical run for the Browns, and was the start of the end of Mayfield and his time in Cleveland, something that nobody knew at the time.
2021: The Wide Receiver Drama, The Grinch That Stole Christmas, And The Nail In The Coffin
In 2021, it was a sure thing that Mayfield would continute to keep things trending in the upward direction for the Browns, and Beckham Jr would finally click with his quarterback like we all thought he would when they traded for him.
None of that was the case, and 2021 marked the end of Mayfield in Cleveland.
Where did it begin? Week 3 against the Chigaco Bears, when Mayfield threw a bad interception that led to him leading with his shoulder in an attempt to make a tackle, leading to a shoulder injury that haunted him the rest of the year, ultimately again leading to his departure.
It was all downhill from there. Injury related or not, he was flat out bad. Couldn't make reads, picked back up bad habits, and couldn't hit a single throw.
Beckham Jr' father, Odell Beckham Sr had enough, going on a social media rant explaining just how bad Mayfield was, and how his son deserved better.
His son got his wish, as he was deemed "free" from the Browns after his release, and he would go on to win a Super Bowl.
On Christmas, Mayfield threw four ugly interceptions as the Browns lost 24-22. On that day, head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry had seen enough, and they made a busines decision; Mayfield was not going to be the Browns franchise quarterback.
The Franchise-Altering Trade
After a brutal finish to the season filled with losing and drama, the Browns had enough of Mayfield.
After a visit and the approval of the Haslams, Andrew Berry went all in, trading for superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson and sigining him to a fully guaranteed five year, $230-million dollar contract.
Where did that lead Mayfield? It led us to where we are today.
A brutal stint with the Carolina Panthers, where he ended up finishing 520th out of 521 quarterbacks in QBR for qualified season since the stat started being recorded. The QBR? A miserable 18.2.
Just a few days ago, Mayfield and the Panthers "mutually agreed" to part ways, as they cut the former number one overall pick.
After ending up on waivers, only one team put in a claim for the quarterback. The team? Defending Super Bowl champions in the Los Angeles Rams.
With Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp out for the season, the Rams season is already over, having been for weeks now.
The focus will shift to Mayfield, and he is expected to be up-to-speed for their Thursday Night Football game against the Raiders. In the NFL, not everyone is given a second chance to succeed and show the world they belong.
For Mayfield, he is on his third chance, one that you would think is his final shot as Sean McVay will look to get the most out of Mayfield and turn his career around with one last effort.
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