Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns find themselves in a precarious position. Mayfield’s production and the Browns record aren’t living up to expectations. Meanwhile, Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are living the dream that Browns fans were expecting for themselves. Fans haven’t turned on Mayfield just yet but there are cracks in the protective armor they’ve wrapped around him in recent years. And Mayfield is in the midst of missing the final game of the NFL season for surgery before the final year of his contract when everything is going to come to a head.
Longtime Cleveland.com and Plains-Dealer beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot has covered the Browns and Mayfield extensively and she dropped a big story on Wednesday night. In her piece, she says that issues between Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski are coming to a head and, if they’re not dealt with, the quarterback could end up requesting a trade this offseason, or the Browns could decide to move on from him.
The article requires a subscription to read in full but apparently, Baker is a loyal reader because he responded to the article on Twitter, calling it “clickbait.”
Clickbait. You and many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts. Don’t put words in my mouth so you can put food on your table. I’m not your puppet. https://t.co/MfHnqWk65s
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) January 6, 2022
“Clickbait,” Mayfield said on Twitter. “You and many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama-stirring reporters with no sources or facts. Don’t put words in my mouth so you can put food on your table. I’m not your puppet.”
While Mayfield might not like the reporting, it’s not as though this is coming out of nowhere. There have been rumors of discontent with the play-calling for weeks now. Mayfield also has himself to blame for saying that he and the Browns had “a lot of internal things” to sort out in mid-December. Mayfield also complained that the Browns became “too conservative” after building a big lead against the Ravens. And there have been other issues during the season, including the way the Odell Beckham, JR. saga played out.
It’s been a strong week for NFL quarterbacks pushing back on media members. Mayfield’s tweet follows Aaron Rodgers’ pushback on Hub Arkush for saying that he wouldn’t vote for the Packers quarterback to be MVP because he’s a “jerk” and “bad guy.”
There are two noticeable differences in those instances, however. First, Arkush was giving an opinion while Cabot was basing her article on reporting and sources. Second, Rodgers has an NFL trophy case and stat line that measures up with some of the all-time greats while Mayfield…does not.
Not to say that you can’t call out beat reporters if you feel so inclined, but people and organizations are far more likely to put up with it when you’re winning games, which isn’t something Mayfield did as often as hoped this year. Baker has never been one to be shy about sharing his opinions off the field, but when it’s all said and done, the Browns will have to decide if they think Mayfield is the guy to get them more wins on the field.
And if not, Cabot’s “clickbait” might bear out after all.
[Baker Mayfield, Mary Kay Cabot]