Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will be sidelined for four to six months after undergoing surgery on the shoulder injury that bothered him throughout the 2021 season, the team announced Wednesday.
Jake Trotter of ESPN reported it's possible Mayfield winds up back on the field "much sooner" than training camp. The signal-caller posted a video on Twitter updating his status earlier Wednesday, saying his surgery "went great" and was a "complete success."
“Now it’s on the way to the road to recovery," Mayfield said. "This is one of those steps to get back to my true self. ... It’s not going to be an easy one, but it’s going to be one that I’m going to remember and it’s going to be a special one."
Mayfield played wearing a harness for much of the season to protect his shoulder, clearly impacting his performance. He finished with 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions, ranking as one of the worst qualifying starting quarterbacks in nearly every metric.
The Browns, arguably equipped with a Super Bowl-caliber roster everywhere except quarterback and wide receiver, finished a disappointing 8-9. They also watched top wideout Odell Beckham Jr. force his way out of Cleveland—thanks in large part to his father disparaging Mayfield—only to thrive after signing with the Los Angeles Rams.
Mayfield, who seemed destined for a contract extension paying him upwards of $35 million per season a year ago, will now likely play 2022 on his fifth-year option in a make-it-or-break-it year for his tenure in Cleveland. An NFL executive told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler to expect the Browns to explore trading Mayfield this offseason, though the team's public comments suggest otherwise.
“We have been with Baker for a long period of time at this point. We know his work ethic, we know his drive and we have seen him as a talented passer in this league. We are looking forward to him getting healthy and continuing to make improvements. We expect him to bounce back next year," general manager Andrew Berry told reporters last week.
Mayfield's injury complicates any potential trade, as it's unlikely he'd be ready to pass a physical by March or April, when most teams are settling their quarterback spot. The overwhelming likelihood is we'll see Mayfield back in a Browns uniform in 2022, but he'll be playing for his job.