It wasn’t that long ago that the Browns upset the Steelers to win their first playoff game since the 1994 season.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield was at the forefront of that victory, throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-37 win on Jan. 10, 2021.
But things fell apart for Mayfield and the Browns over the next year. Mayfield played injured for most of the 2021 season. And then Cleveland traded for Deshaun Watson, putting an end to the Mayfield era that began in 2018.
Now, Mayfield is with the Panthers and told the media in his first press conference with the team that he’s “extremely excited” to begin his next chapter.
“No animosity toward Cleveland,” Mayfield said. “It’s a good football town that gave me the first four years of my career. I’m thankful for these trials and tribulations, all the challenges. A lot to learn from and look back on and reflect. But, really just focused on right now and being a Carolina Panther and I’m pumped up to do so.”
But that playoff victory was about 18 months ago, which is part of why Mayfield said it was “surprising for everybody” that he’s no longer with the Browns.
“But if I’m focused on the past, then I’m not doing my job in being a Carolina Panther now,” Mayfield said. “So, like I said, I’m grateful for my time there. Yeah, shocked — I’d say was pretty much the only way to describe it. But you roll with the punches and you’ve got to move forward. This is a test of adversity and how I’m going to handle it, and how I can move forward to be the best teammate possible with our new home. And I’m looking forward to it.
“Cleveland’s a special place and there’s teammates and friendships and bonds — we all contributed to that special run and to help turn that around. There’s guys, lifelong friendships that I’ll have that are very special to me, very near and dear to [my wife] Emily and I that we’ll never forget about. But I’m never a ‘me’ guy. I’m a team-first ‘win’ guy. We had a good time there and I’m looking forward to being able to contribute with Carolina now.”
Mayfield compiled a 29-30 record as a starter with the Browns, who selected him at No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft.