Browns excuse disgruntled Mayfield from minicamp

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Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has announced the team have excused quarterback Baker Mayfield from attending their mandatory minicamp set to begin next week.

The move prevents the unhappy former number one overall pick from being subjected to financial penalties by missing the three-day session.

Mayfield could have been fined upwards of $90,000 by not attending the entire portion of minicamp.

Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday that the decision was mutual and in the best interests of both parties.

"Obviously that was a decision made between our organisation, Baker and Baker’s team. We felt that was the best decision between both sides," he said.

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Mayfield’s four-year run as the Browns' starting quarterback essentially came to an end when the team acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans in March and promptly signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a four-year, $160million extension.

The fiery quarterback reacted strongly and negatively to the move, saying he felt "disrespected" and blindsided during an interview in April.

"I was told one thing and they completely did another," he told the Ya Neva Know podcast. "I’m ready for the next chapter, the next opportunity."

Mayfield previously skipped Cleveland’s recent voluntary organised training activities program and has requested a trade, though he remains on the roster for now.

The former Heisman Trophy winner is due a guaranteed $18.9m this season in the final year of his rookie contract.

Finding a trade partner has so far proven to be difficult due to Mayfield's fifth-year option price-tag, pending free agency and year-to-year inconsistency.

The 27-year-old’s 21 interceptions in his first full season as a starter in 2019 ranked second in the NFL, but he bounced back to throw for 26 touchdowns and only eight picks the following season while leading Cleveland to an 11-5 record and the franchise's first playoff appearance in 18 years.

Mayfield struggled to repeat that success last season while plagued by a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder that eventually required surgery.

His passer rating dipped from 95.9 in 2020 to 83.1 last season and he finished with a 17-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Watson's status for the start of the season is also undetermined as he faces a potential league suspension due to civil lawsuits filed by 24 female massage therapists alleging him of sexual assault and impropriety.

Stefanski was non-committal when asked if Mayfield would remain an option if he is still on the roster and Watson begins the season under suspension.

The Browns do have another experienced backup after signing six-year veteran Jacoby Brissett in March.

"We're just going to deal with it day by day," Stefanski said of the Mayfield situation.

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