Deshaun Watson could be suspended for the entire 2022 season due to his multiple sexual misconduct lawsuits. If that happens, could the Cleveland Browns keep Baker Mayfield on the roster and have him be the starting quarterback for the year? Mayfield recently spoke to reporters at his youth football camp in Norman, Oklahoma and didn't rule out a reconciliation with the Browns. However, Mayfield said the Browns would have to be the ones to make the first move.
"I think for that to happen there would have to be some reaching out," Mayfield said, per ESPN. "But we're ready to move on, I think — on both sides." Watson has a hearing before the NFL and the NFL Players Association jointly appointed disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson on Tuesday. The NFL is expecting to push for at least a one-year suspension, according to ESPN.
The Browns traded for Watson back in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million guaranteed contract. He recently settled 20 of his 24 lawsuits, and ESPN reported that the NFL will present the cases of five women, four of whom are suing Watson as supporting evidence during the hearing. The Browns have been attempting to trade Mayfield but have yet to make a deal with a team. The Browns have discussed a trade with the Carolina Panthers, and Mayfield is set to make $19 million in guaranteed money this upcoming season.
"I'm thankful for my four years in Cleveland," he said. "A ton of ups and downs and learning experiences I'll forever keep with me. ... The people in Cleveland, it's a great sports town. I'm thankful for it and there's no resentment to the city of Cleveland by any means."
Mayfield, 27, was selected No. 1 overall by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the team's starting QB for the last four seasons and posted a 29-30 record. Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs and their first playoff win in 26 years in 2020 and is fourth on the Browns' all-time passing yards list (14,125). Watson, 26, spent his last five seasons with the Houston Texans but didn't play last year due to the lawsuits. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times in the last four years.