Baker Mayfield explains playing injured with Browns

Current Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Baker Mayfield once again addressed playing injured while with the Cleveland Browns during the 2021 season, a decision that impacts the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft to this day. 

“There’s always the what-ifs,” Mayfield explained, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m a competitive guy. I want to be out there. If it came down to it to where I thought that somebody else was able to do it better than me at that physical condition? I’m a team guy first. I would have let it happen. But I felt I was able to go well enough.”

Mayfield guided the Browns to a postseason win at the division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2021 but then suffered what became a serious injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder in Week 2 of the subsequent season. It was known in October 2021 Mayfield needed surgery, but he nevertheless continued playing and ultimately went 6-8 as a starter for a non-playoff team. 

The Browns later landed star signal-caller Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans in March 2022 before Cleveland traded Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers in July of that year. The 28-year-old who flopped with the Panthers acknowledged earlier this summer he was “just too damn stubborn” to sideline himself in the fall of 2021, and he’s now attempting to save whatever is left of his career serving as the Week 1 replacement for retired legend Tom Brady with Tampa Bay. 

Mayfield signed a one-year “prove it” contract with the Buccaneers in March. 

“You know, mentally, as soon as Cleveland decided to go with Deshaun Watson, I knew that I wasn’t going to be there,” Mayfield added about the end of his Browns tenure. “It was just a matter of time. So I had already moved on at a certain point. You know, at the time (I) wasn’t happy with it, but you just had to accept it, move on to the next thing.”

As shown by outlets such as OddsChecker, many in the NFL community believe Mayfield and the Buccaneers will finish this season dead last in the division standings. OddsChecker listed the visiting Bucs as underdogs (+205, +5.5) for Sunday’s regular-season opener at the Minnesota Vikings as of Friday afternoon. 

“That’s fortunate for us, because that makes our guys have a different type of motivation they might have not had recently,” Mayfield said about the Buccaneers’ mindset regarding such predictions. “It puts them into a different level of competition and trying to prove that our locker room is more than capable of keeping that success.”


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