Once the Cleveland Browns went down the road to pursue Deshaun Watson, they touched the third rail with Baker Mayfield. Even when the team initially failed to acquire the now-former Texans quarterback, Mayfield had asked for a trade out of Cleveland with the relationship permanently fractured. However, the team did deny Mayfield's trade request and planned to pivot back to him after that failed pursuit of Watson, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
As Cabot reports, Mayfield wasn't on board with the Brown pursuing an upgrade at quarterback like Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson or Derek Carr. Things then reached a breaking point when the Browns brass went to meet with Watson. A report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the team was looking for "an adult" was more salt in the wound as the Mayfield camp believed that comment came from within the Cleveland organization. Because of this, Cabot adds that Mayfield would have likely skipped the team's offseason program, mandatory minicamp, and possibly even training camp if not moved regardless of if the club had found another quarterback.
With the relationship with Mayfield dissolving more by the minute, that further pushed the Browns to go all-in on Watson and sweetening their offer. By dangling a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract in front of him, Watson then plucked Cleveland out of the discarded pile of candidates and identified them as the team he'd waive his no-trade clause for, triggering the blockbuster trade.
Of course, hoping that Mayfield -- or any quarterback -- would be a happy solider and simply move forward with the Browns after they actively tried to replace him was wishful thinking on the club's part. However, had he done so, it'd be fascinating to see how the Watson sweepstakes may have changed and if he would have chosen either the New Orleans Saints or Atlanta Falcons -- the two reported finalists -- instead.
With Watson now in Cleveland, that means Mayfield's time with Browns will, in fact, be nearing its end. The quarterback has reportedly eyed the Indianapolis Colts as his preferred destination, but there will likely be a number of QB needy teams calling the Browns to see what it'll cost to bring in the former No. 1 overall pick.