CLEVELAND — Just when you thought we were done with off-the-field soap operas involving the Cleveland Browns, here's a reminder of what happens when a season goes off the rails.
In a Cleveland.com story, Mary Kay Cabot reported that there is a rift between quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski. Sources told Cabot that Mayfield has been 'feeling like Stefanski’s playcalling didn’t always put him in position to succeed or play to his strengths.' The story also suggested that if the Browns fourth-year quarterback doesn't get reassurance that things will be different next year, he will consider asking for a trade.
On Thursday afternoon, Mayfield angrily responded to the story and 'other Cleveland local media' members on Twitter with the following: "Clickbait. You and many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts. Don’t put words in my mouth so you can put food on your table. I’m not your puppet."
During his weekly conference with reporters, Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was asked if he had noticed any friction between Mayfield and Stefanski. "Absolutely not," he answered. "I've seen zero of that."
How did things get this bad? As the "Voice of the Browns," Jim Donovan, put it, "this is what happens when you're 7-9. This is what happens when the season ends up as a huge disappointment." The Browns were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders coming off of an 11-5 season and their first playoff berth in 18 years. All the pieces were seemingly in place for the team to take another step forward, but it never happened.
Now, the finger pointing seems to be underway.
"I just can't believe that anyone would have any differences with Kevin Stefanski," Jimmy added. "He's one of the nicest guys around and looks to make everyone better, so I don't know if that part (not putting Baker in a position to succeed) is true."
Meanwhile, Mayfield will not be in action on Sunday when the Browns finish the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. The first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft will sit out as he prepares to undergo surgery on a torn labrum. Following Monday's loss in Pittsburgh, Mayfield told reporters that the decision for him to play against the Bengals would be "a discussion I have with my agent and my family." He never mentioned Stefanski or the Browns coaches.
How zany did the Mayfield Twitter saga get on Thursday? Former Browns quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and DeShone Kizer both weighed in on social media in apparent defense of their fellow signal-caller.
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