"The Browns’ players were working toward a deal with their coaches over the weekend after staying away—and part of the reason they were O.K. with being absent until now is that quarterback Baker Mayfield had held a passing camp in Austin already."
The wording here is interesting. It's presented as the players are the ones trying to get this deal done. The Browns, where NFLPA President J.C. Tretter plays, were regarded as one of the most steadfast in their united front. Nothing about this changes that, but it does point out the fact that the players are motivated to get to work for a few reasons.
First and foremost, younger players on their rookie deals want to take advantage of the fact they can get their work in without feeling the need to hire private coaches or things as simple as food, all while being protected in case of injury.
The more established veterans want to be prepared for the season while being able to protect themselves for being worn down in May and June for a season that starts in September. There are also a handful of players with workout bonuses they want to ensure they get.
In that sense, this is yet another opportunity for the Browns, who have been active in empowering their players, to allow them to have some input in how these workouts are handled. It doesn't mean they don't want to work hard, but that dialogue between the two sides can enable both sides to feel good about what each side wants to accomplish, eliminating questions and uncertainty.
OTAs offer the ability to have 10 practices. Those stand out as real opportunities to improve, especially for these second and third year players still trying to get fully acclimated. Some of the older veterans want to be able to get out there and work as well, which would almost certainly include quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The fact Mayfield has already had a passing camp at his home in Texas is an indication of this already. They know the offense and want to increase their confidence, now being able to get coached, which was not available to them last offseason due to the pandemic.
The defense could feature as many as nine new starters between players they added in free agency, the NFL Draft, players that opted out in 2020 and players coming back from injury. Some of those guys are chomping at the bit to get out there and start working, because they want to start competing to earn jobs.
Being able to get out there on the field and start working through some things and installing coverages could prove valuable. It also just allows these players to get excited about what they have, getting to assemble all of the talent they've acquired on the field at the same time.
This team wants to win the Super Bowl and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won it last year, saw Tom Brady organizing what amounted to be team practices in every sense except for having coaches there. This isn't lost on teams, particularly a group like the Browns who should feel like they are in that mix this year. The players want to work. They just want some agency in how they practice.