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Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday he hopes the ongoing saga between the team and quarterback Baker Mayfield can be resolved soon.
“I think we’ll see,” Stefanski said at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. “I think everyone understands the situation. We hope there will be a closure at some point.”
His comments come as Mayfield remained on the Browns’ roster on Monday, about 10 days after the team traded for former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who agreed to a five-year, $230 million deal. years.
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Mayfield has been the Browns’ quarterback since his rookie season after the team selected him No. 1 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. This month, Mayfield thanked Cleveland fans in a post on social media and his guaranteed full base salary of 18.858 million in 2022, will likely impact business efforts.
On Monday, Stefanski called the situation “unique”.
“We have to see how it goes, said the coach. I think we would all like to have an answer yesterday, but that’s not the reality.”
Stefanski said he expects Watson — who still faces 22 civil lawsuits over sexual assault allegations — to fully participate in the Browns’ offseason program beginning April 18.
He said the team welcomed Watson despite his off-field issues and the coach indicated he would try to ensure those issues did not distract the team.
“I think it’s important for our players, our coaches and our building in general,” Stefanski said, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “We understand that there are questions, and we’re going to continue to have that dialogue. But at the end of the day, we also have our work to do. We have to focus on that. … You have to be present and being where your feet are is really going to be our approach to everything.
The Browns received backlash from fans after signing Watson, and the coach said the team tried to “understand everyone’s point of view”.
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“I just want to make sure I’m available in our building for everyone to talk about because it’s not something that’s been taken lightly,” the coach added. “It’s just too important. I wanted to make sure everyone understood that this is something that took weeks, months, weeks of gathering information, discussing, and conversations. It’s not something we could take lightly.
Mayfield battled a shoulder injury last season as he started 14 games and threw for just 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns, the lowest totals of his career.
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In 2020, Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, throwing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.