Panthers’ Baker Mayfield recognizes Browns in his corner

CHARLOTTE, NC — Four minutes after walking out of the tunnel for the first time Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield headed to midfield to greet some of the Browns who drafted him.

Senior offensive assistant Kevin Rogers was the first to spy and embrace Mayfield, followed by defensive coordinator Ben Bloom, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and running backs coach Stump Mitchell, the which had a double clutch.

Not long after that came quarterback Jacoby Brissett and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. After a few warm-up throws, Mayfield crossed the field again to see Pass Game Coordinator Chad O’Shea.

“These are people that I know have been in my corner for life, that have seen the work that we’ve all been doing together for years,” Mayfield said. “It’s always great to see these guys. Those are the only people who know the ins and outs and everything that goes on in this building, and those are the relationships that really matter.

“The equipment staff and some of those instructors there that I’ve made lifelong friendships with, it’s always great to see, so I’m grateful for that.”

The coin flip was just as friendly as Mayfield briefly hugged defensive end Myles Garrett along with the other Browns captains — Nick Chubb, Anthony Walker Jr., Charlie Haglett and running back Ronnie Harrison.

Before and after the Browns’ 26-24 win over the Panthers, Mayfield rekindled friendships and relished another chance to be together.

But Mayfield played down his feelings after the Browns traded him on July 6, replacing him with Deshaun Watson as their preferred quarterback despite his 11-game suspension to start the season.

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“It’s always good to see familiar faces. emotional; No, I wouldn’t get too into it,” he said. “It was good to see some people. Obviously, disappointed with the way things ended. I’d love to have bragging rights against those guys, but we didn’t finish, mainly because we didn’t start fast.”

After the Browns won on rookie Cade York’s 58-yard field goal with eight seconds left, the spotlight was back on Mayfield.

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield talks with Browns wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea before a game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Charlotte, NC

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said they didn’t talk. That was along with the fact that Mayfield didn’t try to talk to anyone from Cleveland’s front office during pregame warmups when General Manager Andrew Berry and assistant GM Glenn Cook were on the court.

Kareem Hunt and Perrion Winfrey, a rookie from Oklahoma, led Mayfield, followed by Garrett, Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, Walker and Van Pelt. Mayfield then headed to the prayer circle at midfield, most Panthers players, and David Njoku knelt next to him.

Garrett discussed his rocky relationship with Mayfield in an interview with Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, saying their issues came to a head during Mayfield’s remarks on national television after Garrett hit the Steelers’ Mason Rudolph in the head with the general’s helmet in 2019.

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Asked about Mayfield’s approach after the game, Garrett said: “Two competitors. Player to player, man to man.

“I go to most of the guys I used to compete with on the court. Maybe I’ll see the strikers, I’ll go see them. The wide receivers, half backs, tight ends. It’s a privilege to be able to step on this field and play against these guys. We are some of the best athletes in the world and America’s best. I’m just happy to be here and I tell the guys to be thankful for that.”

Asked if he earned more respect for Mayfield after the Panthers rallied from a 20-7 deficit to take a 24-23 lead with 1:13 left, Garrett said, “No. He has not lost my respect. I don’t think I ever had a problem with him as a footballer. He was playing injured [in 2021] and that earns a lot of respect in my eyes as well.

“Being able to make those kinds of drives, I’ve said it before against a lot of teams, I just didn’t want to be on the other end.”

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is sacked by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Charlotte, NC (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is sacked by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Charlotte, NC (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

When Mayfield was asked about his postgame exchange with Garrett, Mayfield said, “He just said, ‘Go ahead.'”

Garrett revealed a little more about how he felt about Mayfield when discussing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney batting down Mayfield’s pass on the first play of the game. The Browns got at least four of them, two from Clowney.

“I mean, the tone was set with the attitude of some of the guys on the other side,” Garrett said. “We were ready to go out there and finally put things to bed.”

Asked if he meant the things said before the game, Garrett replied, “He kind of had us off the leash.”

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Mayfield insisted he had nothing to do with the “Off The Leash” T-shirt that marketers designed for the game. Mayfield also provided some of the Browns’ fuel when Buffalo Bills reporter Cynthia Frelund said during a podcast that Mayfield said, “I’ll [bleep] them up’, in relation to his former team. Mayfield denied using those words, saying he only agreed with Frelund.

Mayfield completed 16 of 27 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown with four sacks and an interception for an 84.6 grade. He seemed happy that the pre-game hype was over.

“Everybody has made it known that it’s the Super Bowl, but despite what everyone will make of it, there are 16 more games…” he said.

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield greets Browns strength coach Dale Jones before a game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Charlotte, NC

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield greets Browns strength coach Dale Jones before a game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Charlotte, NC

Mayfield got the wish he expressed Wednesday, saying he wanted a hug from Nicholas Chubb.

“Nicholas Jamaal Chubb gave me a big hug. It felt good,” Mayfield said. “I wish I was on the other side of that hug, but it’s good to see some of your best friends.”

The feeling was mutual.

“It was good. It was great to see him,” Chubb said. “Obviously he wasn’t in the best mood because they didn’t win the game, but [at the] At the end of the day off the field he’s bigger than that and he’s still one of my best friends.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: Panthers Baker Mayfield downplays Browns reunion sentiment

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