CLEVELAND — Publicly, the Cleveland Browns have remained committed to Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback in 2022.
It appears that privately, however, the franchise is taking a different approach.
Appearing on ESPN on Wednesday, Chris Mortensen discussed Mayfield's status as Cleveland's quarterback. And in doing so, the longtime NFL insider revealed that he expects the Browns and Mayfield to breakup, regardless of the outcome of Cleveland's pursuit of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
"They're breaking up regardless of whether or not Deshaun Watson ends up in Cleveland," Mortensen said. "The one thing I was told is that it's just not a match emotionally. Whereas Baker Mayfield's passion and emotional leadership was embraced at Oklahoma and even in the beginning with the Browns, things have changed and they want what they consider an 'adult' at that position. And Baker Mayfield probably is going to be moved."
As to where, Mortensen speculated that the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft could be traded to the Seattle Seahawks, who are in the market for a new quarterback after trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. And if the Browns don't land Watson, who is also being pursued by the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, Mortensen said to keep an eye on Cleveland targeting San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Mortensen's comments come one day after Mayfield posted a letter to social media addressing his uncertain future with the Browns.
"The past 4 years have been nothing short of truly life changing since I heard my name called in the draft to go to Cleveland," he wrote. "This is not a message with hidden meaning. This is strictly to thank the city of Cleveland for embracing my family and me.
"I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God's plan throughout this process. I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I've always done at every stage, and at every level. And that will not change wherever I take my next snap. Whatever happens ... I just want to say thank you to the fans who truly embraced who I am and the mentality that aligned so well with this city's hard working people."