In a compelling narrative that has caught the attention of football enthusiasts and critics alike, NBC Sports football analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms has expressed strong criticism towards the Cleveland Browns' management, particularly in their handling of Baker Mayfield's transition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mayfield, who courageously played through a significant injury to his non-throwing shoulder during the 2021 season with the Browns, found himself in a challenging situation, as outlined by Simms in a conversation with Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.
Simms passionately remarked, "Baker got screwed over by the Browns — there’s no other way around it." He pointed out that Mayfield's subpar performance in 2021, largely attributed to his shoulder injury, was used against him by the Browns.
This situation was further complicated when the team pursued Deshaun Watson without Mayfield's knowledge, leading to a strained relationship and Mayfield's eventual request for a trade.
Mayfield's Turbulent Trade
The drama unfolded in March 2022, when Mayfield felt compelled to seek a trade following the Browns' initial failure to secure Watson from the Houston Texans.
This development was notably exacerbated by Mayfield discovering the Browns' meeting with Watson through social media, as reported by ESPN's Jake Trotter. The Browns, in a dramatic turn of events, ultimately persuaded Watson to join them by offering a staggering fully guaranteed five-year, $230M contract.
Subsequently, in July 2022, Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers. Mayfield's journey with the Browns began as the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, where he played a pivotal role in leading them to a playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2021.
Fast forward to the present, Mayfield has rejuvenated his career with the Buccaneers and is set to lead them in the upcoming divisional playoff game against the Detroit Lions. Despite the recent turmoil, Mayfield boasts a record of more career playoff victories (two) than Watson (one).
Looking ahead to the weekend's game, Simms expressed a positive outlook on the Buccaneers, despite them being 6.5-point underdogs against the Lions, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. "I think they match up really well with Detroit," Simms observed, hinting at the potential for an upset in this pivotal matchup.
Simms' sentiment is echoed by other notable analysts, who believe that Tampa Bay stands a genuine chance of overturning the odds against the Lions at Detroit's Ford Field. This narrative adds an intriguing layer to the NFL's dynamic landscape, highlighting the complexities and unpredictability of player management and team strategies.