Editors’ 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
If the Browns release veteran quarterback Baker Mayfield, they may have to face him twice a year. During ESPN’s Get Up this morning, Jeff Darlington said that the Steelers would sign the AFC North rival quarterback “the very next day” if he’s cut, per The Plain Dealer.
The Mayfield-Steelers rumors have been prevalent since the fallout between the quarterback and his current Cleveland team. Mayfield has sought to be moved since the franchise set its sights on Deshaun Watson, for whom it eventually traded and signed to a record deal. Mayfield said he felt “disrespected” by the Browns for their lack of open communication as they sought to acquire Watson.
In March, Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com said that the Steelers would “pounce” at the chance to sign Mayfield. The team is seeking a replacement to Ben Roethlisberger after his retirement following the 2021 season.
The Steelers signed one high-upside reclamation project in former Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky. The team also has Mason Rudolph, who has started in place of an injured Roethlisberger in spots over the last few years. Tragically, another prominent member of the team’s quarterback room, Dwayne Haskins, was hit by a dump truck and killed in Florida earlier this month. He had been in the area attending workouts with Trubisky and other Steelers players.
Mayfield is coming off of a disappointing, injury-addled season that saw him miss three of the team’s games. After leading the Browns to an 11–5 record and a playoff berth in 2020, he threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in ’21. His 7.2 yards per attempt were tied for the worst mark of his career, and he had an astronomical sack rate of 9.3%, by far the worst of his NFL career.
The Browns were aggressive in seeking an upgrade in Watson, albeit one with significant baggage. While two grand juries in Texas declined to charge Watson on 10 total criminal complaints stemming from many allegations of sexual misconduct and assault during massage therapy sessions, he still faces 22 active civil lawsuits. They describe accounts ranging from the quarterback refusing to cover his genitals during sessions to “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.”
After the deal, Watson received a five-year, $230 million contract. The deal is structured so that the quarterback would only lose $55,556 for every game he’s suspended if he serves one in 2022, per Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer.
During his introductory Browns press conference, Watson denied the allegations levied against him.
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For more Pittsburgh Steelers coverage, go to All Steelers.