It’s been more than a decade since the Browns last made it to the playoffs, but there is at least one notable individual whose tenure in Cleveland has never ended. Baker Mayfield was drafted by the team with the first overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft and will be playing his football on Sundays for at least six seasons while giving hope to fans that something better may arrive eventually.
Baker Mayfield is still the best quarterback in the history of the Cleveland Browns. The departure of Hue Jackson and a couple of other coaches was not as bad as it could have been. Read more in detail here: browns quarterback history.
Highlights of the article:
- Baker Mayfield is the finest quarterback in the history of the Cleveland Browns, and recent events should not change that.
- If not for the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, the long-suffering club would not have regained relevance.
- Mayfield’s dreadful last months in Cleveland shouldn’t overshadow the excellent times he had there.
The Cleveland Browns have effectively concluded the Baker Mayfield era in Ohio after four seasons and a return to prominence.
On Friday, March 18, the Cleveland Browns traded five draft choices to the Houston Texans, including three first-round picks, in exchange for three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson. Mayfield, the No. 1 overall selection in 2018, had sought a trade the day before, which the Browns are anticipated to give in the coming weeks.
Although Browns fans may be dissatisfied with Mayfield after a terrible 2021 season and his likely departure, the fact remains that he is the greatest quarterback in club history — or at least since the team commenced play in 1999.
Baker Mayfield is the finest quarterback in Browns history, and no one can argue with that.
Baker Mayfield is the finest quarterback in Cleveland Browns history | Getty Images/Dylan Buell
Many parts of sports are contentious. Basketball fans have debated whether LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan for years. On the all-time quarterback list, some football fans may still prefer Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers over Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There is no doubt in Mayfield’s mind that he is the best quarterback in Browns history.
To be honest, his rivals aren’t exactly formidable. In 60 games with the team, Mayfield completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns, and 56 interceptions. He leads all players who have played for the Browns since 1999 in throwing yards and touchdowns entering the 2022 season. Tim Couch, the No. 1 overall choice in 1999 who started 59 games in five seasons, threw 11 fewer interceptions than the Oklahoma product.
In January 2021, Mayfield led the Browns to a playoff victory, and a week later, he almost upset the Kansas City Chiefs. Prior to the 2022 season, no other quarterback in team history had ever won a playoff game.
Consider who else has received substantial starting time for the Browns since the team’s return to the NFL. Derek Anderson was named to the Pro Bowl in 2007, but struggled with inconsistency over the following two years. Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, and DeShone Kizer were all brought in with high expectations, but underperformed before being benched and shipped out.
Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel should be mentioned as little as possible.
Despite their recent struggles, the Texans boast two above-average starting quarterbacks in Watson and Matt Schaub. Not to mention the fact that Houston debuted in 2002, three years after the new-look Browns entered the field.
Is Mayfield a better quarterback than Otto Graham or Bernie Kosar, both of whom played for the Browns in their early years? Nope. For generations of Browns supporters, though, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner is unquestionably the best quarterback in the league.
Mayfield’s dreadful last months in Cleveland shouldn’t overshadow the excellent times he had there.
Mayfield, in retrospect, started the process of leaving the Browns in November 2021. He chastised Cleveland fans for booing him and his colleagues during a combined 1-31 season in 2016-17. Throughout the 2021 season, his wife, Emily, took digs at Browns supporters.
Only a few months ago, Browns supporters were raving about Mayfield, particularly when he narrowly missed making the AFC Championship Game. The 6-foot-1 signal-caller who gave his everything on every play seemed to be the Dawg Pound’s franchise quarterback after decades of waiting.
The Browns would not have made the playoffs in 2020 if it weren’t for Mayfield. Cleveland fans should remember Mayfield’s five touchdowns in a thrilling win over the rival Cincinnati Bengals in October 2020, even though they are more likely to recall his four interceptions against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day 2021. What about his 2018 NFL debut, when he came off the bench to beat the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football?
Last season, Browns supporters booed Mayfield in part because he helped raise the bar to the point where subpar performances were no longer acceptable. With him as quarterback, Cleveland had no business having a top-15 selection unless it belonged to someone else.
Mayfield missed the majority of last season due to ailments, including a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Despite his infirmities and the boos, Johnny persisted in his quest for magic until the Browns were mathematically eliminated in Week 17. Even if it meant finishing the season with a 29-30 record for his career, he never quit up.
Browns fans may grow to admire Mayfield more in the future than they do now.
Baker Mayfield, the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, has a difficult history | Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
The Browns had not yet traded Mayfield at the time of publishing. Although a reunion is theoretically feasible in the future, unless he returns as an experienced backup or signs a one-day contract to retire with the team that picked him, the odds are stacked against him.
By then, Browns supporters should have a better understanding of Mayfield. He didn’t slice apart defenses like Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs or succeed as a dual-threat like Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. He didn’t play for the New England Patriots for 20 years, nor did he play for the Seattle Seahawks for a decade.
That shouldn’t be a problem. Not when Mayfield took over a team that had won four games in a row from 2015 to 2017 and won six games in his first season. Not after he became a competent game manager in the middle of the 2020 season, leading Cleveland to its first playoff triumph since Jan. 1, 1995, three months before he was born.
Watson’s status as the best quarterback in Browns history, contemporary or cumulative, remains to be seen. If he and the Browns do make it to the Super Bowl, it will be after Mayfield has taught them how to crawl, walk, and run.
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RELATED: Steve Smith of NFL Network eviscerates Baker Mayfield in a Brutal Rant
The “browns quarterbacks since 1999” is the Browns’ history of quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield is still the best quarterback in this time period. The team has had some ugly departures, but they have also been able to overcome them.
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