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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.

After making the controversial decision to alienate Baker Mayfield and trade for Deshaun Watson, the Browns are staring down a potential long term suspension for their new star quarterback, while their former No. 1 pick has removed himself from the situation.

Robert Griffin III played for Cleveland in 2016, starting five games for the team. He appeared on the The Rich Eisen Show earlier this week, and argued that the Browns need to repair the relationship with Mayfield to stay in contention this season, with the possibility that Watson misses most, if not all, of the 2022 season.

“I think the Browns should offer the olive branch to Baker and ask him to stay if Deshaun Watson gets suspended for a significant amount of time,” Griffin told Eisen. “Baker’s proven in this city he can go win a playoff game, get you to the playoffs and do all those things. Last year, he played hurt and wasn’t very effective. The bottom line is Baker Mayfield is better than Jacoby Brissett, that’s just the bottom line. And if you’re going to have to play a full season with a guy, your best option is to go back to Baker Mayfield and beg him to stay.”

Griffin says the Browns should present it to Mayfield as a chance to prove that he’s not the player he was in 2021, and essentially audition for a starting role elsewhere.

“I think the Browns should approach Baker and say, ‘We need you, we’re sorry how this all worked out, but we want to give you an opportunity to go out there and prove yourself,’ and I think Baker should take that,” Griffin said.

At this point, it will probably have to be the Browns extending that olive branch, as they’ve been unable to find a trade partner for the veteran quarterback to this point.

Mayfield made as much clear when asked if he would return if Cleveland “didn’t have a quarterback for the next year” while working a youth football camp in Oklahoma earlier this week.

“No, I think for that to happen there would have to be some reaching out but we’re ready to move on I think on both sides,” Mayfield said. 

The NFL concluded its Deshaun Watson hearing this week, and the wait is on for the league’s decision on a suspension for the quarterback. According to The MMQB‘s Albert Breer, the league insisted on a full-year suspension for the Browns quarterback, leading to a breakdown in settlement talks between the league and players’ association.

Watson faced 24 civil lawsuits, 20 of which were recently settled, each of which detailed graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that allegedly occurred during massage therapy sessions. Accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” The latest claimed that Watson masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent.

The quarterback has denied all allegations against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges. After the second grand jury opted against pursuing charges, Watson was traded by the Texans to the Browns, who signed him to a five-year deal with $230 million in guaranteed money. Cleveland designed the contract so that he will only lose $55,556 for each game he is suspended in 2022.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said that the recent settlements will have “no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.” 

No timeline has been announced for a suspension decision to come from U.S. District Court Judge Sue L. Robinson, who was appointed as the league disciplinary officer by the NFL and NFL Players Association and has presided over the Watson case. 

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