The Cleveland Browns agreed to excuse quarterback Baker Mayfield from the team's three-day mandatory minicamp next week, the team announced according to multiple reports.
If the Browns didn't excuse Mayfield and he still skipped camp, the team could have fined him $14,775 for the first day, $29,550 for the second day and $44,325 for the third.
Mayfield, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery this offseason, has been the subject of trade speculation since the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. He's been linked to the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, though no deal is reportedly imminent — likely because Mayfield comes with a fully guaranteed one-year, $18.858 million contract.
The decision to excuse Mayfield is similar to the San Francisco 49ers excusing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Both have been replaced, are recovering from injuries and could be traded before the season.
Mayfield's excusing comes amid new Deshaun Watson allegations
The timing of this decision is intriguing because of the newest allegations against Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is facing a 23rd and 24th civil lawsuit against him from massage therapists alleging sexual misconduct. A report by the New York Times also indicated Watson received massages from at least 66 women between late 2019 and early 2021, some of whom detailed similar encounters as some of the women who've filed claims against him.
Mayfield could be the best fallback option for the Browns if Watson were to be suspended by the league or placed on the commissioner's exempt list this season. He's played in the system the longest and is the most experienced of the remaining quarterbacks on the roster.
The only other quarterbacks the Browns could turn to are Jacoby Brissett, who's started 37 games since 2016, including five for the Miami Dolphins in 2021, and Joshua Dobbs, who's attempted just 17 career passes.
Mayfield-Browns relationship deteriorating
While this could be much ado about nothing, it's the first sign of a possible movement in either a reunion or an amicable split between Mayfield and the Browns during a chaotic offseason.
Mayfield reportedly lost part of the Browns' locker room after the team released Odell Beckam Jr. and the Browns finished the 2021 season just 8-9. That's when the Browns reportedly began looking into trading for Watson, according to ESPN.
Things got worse from there when the Browns' pursuit of Watson became public in March. Mayfield posted a goodbye letter on social media soon after and officially requested a trade following a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Browns wanted an "adult" in the quarterback room. Mayfield later said the relationship was "too far gone to mend" and then said he felt "disrespected" by the team on the "Ya Never Know" podcast in April.
For now, Mayfield is a Brown, which may be a good thing for Cleveland considering all the new allegations against Watson.