Baker Mayfield Has 'No Animosity' Toward Browns After Trade to Panthers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 12, 2022

NORMAN, OK - APRIL 23:  Quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Oklahoma Sooners smiles as he is honored with the unveiling of a life-size statue of him during the spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 23, 2022 in Norman, Oklahoma.   (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Baker Mayfield holds "no animosity" toward his last stop following his trade to the Carolina Panthers.

Mayfield said Tuesday during a call with reporters Cleveland is a "good football town that gave me the first four years of my career."

Jake Trotter @Jake_Trotter

Baker said he has "no animosity" toward Cleveland, but the Week 1 game against the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> is "going to be a special one..." <a href="https://t.co/JkxfLXqUFa">pic.twitter.com/JkxfLXqUFa</a>

The former Cleveland Browns quarterback also used the word "shocked" to describe how his offseason unfolded.

"You roll with the punches and you got to move forward," he said. "This is a test of adversity and how I'm gonna handle it and how I can move forward and be the best teammate possible."

The 27-year-old also reflected positively upon his Browns run, especially the team's 2020 playoff run:

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

"I'm never a 'me' guy, I'm a team-first, win guy ... we had a good time there."<br><br>Baker Mayfield on the 2020 playoff run with the Browns. <a href="https://t.co/hZTcv07A7W">pic.twitter.com/hZTcv07A7W</a>

Mayfield took a step backward in 2021. He threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 starts. A shoulder injury impacted his performance throughout the year and eventually required surgery.

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner addressed his shoulder Tuesday and implied he should've addressed the issue much earlier than he did:

Camryn Justice @camijustice

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a> QB Baker Mayfield on playing with the shoulder injury last season with the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a>:<br><br>"When it comes to the shoulder, I'm not one for excuses because I was too stubborn to come out anyway."

Dan Vasko @danvasko

Mayfield said his violent throwing motion contributed to his shoulder injury and further compounded the injury. Said he's slightly adjusted his motion and hasn't thrown this well in a long time. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a>

According to Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, Mayfield's shoulder wasn't the only area of his body that was ailing in 2021:

Camryn Justice @camijustice

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a> Scott Fitterer on Baker Mayfield: <br><br>"It wasn't just the shoulder injury.. He also had a foot injury, a rib injury...he was really banged up last season...I think Baker's really confident and comfortable...I think we get the best version of him going forward."

Mayfield's trade to the Panthers represented an about-face for both parties.

Pro Football Network's Aaron Wilson reported in March that Mayfield and Carolina "have mutual disinterest in working together." It looked like the Panthers took themselves out of the quarterback market when they selected Ole Miss' Matt Corral in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Now, here the two sides stand in what could be a marriage of convenience. Mayfield is due to be a free agent in 2023, with Carolina on the hook for nearly $4.9 million in salary expenses for the upcoming season.

The opportunity was too good for Fitterer to turn down, though.

Mayfield will be healthy and motivated—Carolina opens the regular season against the Browns on Sept. 11—and he's a short-term upgrade over Sam Darnold.

If this works out, then perhaps the Panthers have finally found a solid solution under center—their first since moving on from Cam Newton in 2020. If the trade is a flop, then the organization can move on without having disrupted its future much.

Mayfield is remaining diplomatic for now, but he'll probably love nothing more than to make the Browns regret pivoting away from him as their franchise quarterback.