Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
During an interview on the YNK: you know what I mean? podcast, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was asked if he felt the team’s acquisition of Deshaun Watson was disrespectful.
“I feel disrespected 100%,” he said. “Because I was told one thing and they completely did another. That’s what I’m in the middle of right now.”
Mayfield is likely referring to his team’s pursuit of Watson and how he was not informed of the specifics of the deal. In March, Browns general manager Andrew Berry told reporters he regretted how the trade took place. He informed Mayfield’s agent that Cleveland would be exploring other quarterback options while at the NFL combine, but he didn’t tell Mayfield’s agent that he was meeting with Watson on March 15 in Houston. Three days later, the organization traded for the former Texans quarterback.
Mayfield heard about the meeting before front office executives informed him, and before they returned to Cleveland after the meeting, Mayfield had already penned a letter to Browns fans thanking them for their support— seemingly saying goodbye to the city. Not soon after that, Mayfield requested a trade, and the day after that the team officially traded for Watson.
Watson is facing 22 active civil lawsuits concerning sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions. The lawsuits describe accounts that range from Watson refusing to cover his genitals to “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.”
Despite his fractured relationship with the Browns and being outspoken about wanting out, he’s still on Cleveland’s roster. The team has struggled to find a trade partner and could very well keep Mayfield on the roster for next season. Watson could still be suspended for several games if the NFL’s active investigation finds that he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. In that event, the Browns will want an experienced signal-caller like Mayfield to take over. But the 26-year-old doesn’t seem too happy at the prospect of staying in Cleveland.
“I’m just looking for stabilization right now, and I know what I need to do for me to be the best version of me and to be able to lead an organization,” he said. “I’m in a good place right now. I have no clue where I’m going.”
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported in March that the Browns were looking to get a first-round pick for Mayfield, but it has appeared to be too steep of an asking price after he had an injury-plagued 2021. Not to mention, teams aren’t too eager to take over his $18.86 million salary (fifth-year option) in ’22, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. It remains to be seen if he’ll be dealt by the start of next season.
More Deshaun Watson Coverage:
- The Problems With the NFL’s Deshaun Watson Investigation
- A Massage Therapist on Her Session With Deshaun Watson
- The Deshaun Watson Chase and the ‘Due Diligence’ Myth
- Nearly One Year After the First Civil Suit, Here’s What We Know About Deshaun Watson
- The Browns Will Never Live Down Trading for Deshaun Watson