Browns starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield, was sidelined for the team’s first primetime evening game of the season on Thursday. The shorthanded Browns escaped with a narrow win over the equally shorthanded Denver Broncos, and backup quarterback Case Keenum did just enough to secure the W. 

Another Quarterback Debacle for Cleveland Browns?

Unfortunately for Baker and the Cleveland Browns, news emerged just prior to the start of the game from Baker himself, that his injury is much worse than initially feared. What started out as a partial labrum tear in his non-throwing shoulder escalated. It turns out that Mayfield has a completely torn labrum as well as a fractured humerus bone. 

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The good news is that the injuries are to his non-throwing shoulder. The bad news is that if surgery is required, which it most likely will be, Mayfield could miss anywhere from 4 to 6 months to rehab and recover from his injuries and the surgery to repair them. Not good for a quarterback and a team that is hoping to make a return trip to the playoffs for the first time since rejoining the league in the late 1990s. 

Throw in the fact that Baker and the Browns are in the middle of contract negotiations as Mayfield is in the final year of his rookie contract. His first three years have been marred by inconsistencies and unpredictable performances. After a great rookie season in which Mayfield started only 13 games, but threw for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions, he seemed to regress in his sophomore season. Mayfield started all 16 games in year two as a starter, but only threw for 100 more yards than his rookie season, had 22 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. 

Baker Mayfield

Mayfield bounced back in year three and carried the Browns to their first playoff run in nearly two decades and numbers reminiscent of his rookie season. This year, however, has been an up and down one so far for Mayfield. He’s looked sharp at times and clueless at others. 

No matter what his performance has been like on the field, however, no one has ever questioned his toughness. Mayfield has said repeatedly that he wants to play through the injury, but the potential for making it worse is an ever-looming threat. The number one question for the Browns and Mayfield is whether or not he will need surgery before the off-season to repair the damaged shoulder. If so, Mayfield’s season is all but over. 

If he can manage to play through the pain and learn how to protect his injury, there’s a chance that Mayfield could play as soon as next week. The issue is that the swelling on his injured shoulder is too excessive to begin rehab. Without rehab, Baker’s chances of getting back on the field are nil. 

Case Keenum played good enough to get the Browns the win on Thursday night, but he didn’t do much to suspend the fears of fans moving forward. Keenum did excellent considering that he hasn’t started a game for over two years, but also showed us what his limitations are. He’s not as mobile as Baker and his big-play abilities leave much to be desired. Nonetheless, he has proven that he has the ability to take over a team halfway through the season and carry them to the playoffs. He did it with Minnesota in 2017, and he might have to do it again for Cleveland. 

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