CLEVELAND — Well, it's all over. Baker Mayfield is gone.
Where do you line up on the former franchise savior? Four years of him took its toll on the Browns, on Browns fans, and on Mayfield, too.
He was the flashy Heisman Trophy Award winner who came to Cleveland to save the Browns, and he did that. He did it the very first time he went out onto the field.
Remember? Sept. 20, 2018, a Thursday night against the Jets. It had been 635 days since the Browns had won a game, and he won it.
His rookie year saw him break the all-time record for touchdown passes thrown by a first-year quarterback. Cleveland had been praying since the Kosar days to finally have a QB, and with Mayfield, they looked like they had struck gold.
But his second year was a mess. Freddie Kitchens was his coach, but nobody coached Mayfield. He was given anything he wanted, and a 6-10 record followed.
Coaches were fired, but there was now doubt about Mayfield himself.
Enter Kevin Stefanski, who decided Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt would be the way the Browns win. Mayfield would just manage the game, and it worked.
Then, in a frantic drive to get a playoff spot, Mayfield got red-hot, and led the Browns—like a franchise quarterback should—to the postseason.
A win in Heinz Field over the Steelers followed, and Baker was our guy.
2021. The Browns still had long-term doubts about Mayfield, and there was no agreement on a contract extension. Hmmm.
Mayfield couldn't rally Cleveland in the opener at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs, and then in Game 2, the torn labrum. Believe me, it was all downhill from there.
Week to week, he plays hurt. OBJ's dad says Mayfield is killing his son's career. Odell wants out, and gets to the Rams.
Mayfield is a mess down the stretch. More injuries, more frustration; COVID hits him, and he's a shell of the brassy, bold quarterback who arrived in 2018.
This offseason has been a Browns soap opera, and Mayfield was right in the middle of it. Then, on the outside of it looking in, when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson.
"I feel disrespected. 100%," Mayfield said on the Ya Neva Know podcast back in April. "I was told one thing, and they completely did another."
So here is Mayfield's Cleveland legacy: He was hot and cold. He played with fire, but he started a lot of fires, too, with his mouth. His teammates loved him, but then, he wore them down. His coaches, too, but in defense of him, he had too many coaches in too short a period of time.
So good luck to Baker Mayfield. Remember, he led all of us out of a very dark time for Cleveland Browns football. He just couldn't take us all the way.