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AP source: Mayfield requests trade after Browns chase Watson

Mayfield requested to be traded by the Browns on Thursday after the team failed in its pursuit of controversial Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield stands on the sideline during an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland. The Browns won 24-22. (AP Photo/David Richard)

CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield wants out of Cleveland immediately. The Browns aren't willing to let him go just yet.

Mayfield requested to be traded by the Browns on Thursday after the team failed in its pursuit of controversial Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Mayfield asked to be dealt shortly after the Browns were told by Watson and his representatives that the three-time Pro Bowler wasn't coming to Cleveland, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The team, in turn, denied Mayfield's demand, said a person with knowledge of the Browns' decision.

Mayfield, who is coming off a rough 2021 season and shoulder surgery, was angered by the Browns' public overtures toward Watson and feels his time in Cleveland is over.

“It’s in the mutual interest of both sides for us to move on,” Mayfield told ESPN. “The relationship is too far gone to mend. It’s in the best interests of both sides to move on.”

Led by Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam, the Browns sent a delegation to Houston on Tuesday and met with Watson, who became a potential option after a grand jury declined to indict him last week on sexual misconduct claims brought by 22 women.

Watson is also being pursed by Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina.

The Browns' interest in Watson triggered a strong reaction from Mayfield. He ended his social media hiatus by posting a letter on Twitter and Instagram, expressing disappointment and confusion over the situation.

“I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process," Mayfield wrote. "I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God’s plan throughout this process.

“I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I’ve always done at every stage, and at every level. And that will not change wherever I take my next snap."

The Browns lost faith in Mayfield after he struggled while playing with a left shoulder injury suffered in Week 2. Cleveland fell way short of expectations, missed the playoffs and went into the offseason with uncertainty at quarterback.

Still, Browns general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski said they were confident Mayfield would bounce back in 2022 as the team's starter.

However, it now appears Mayfield's time in Cleveland is up — 15 months after he took the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002.

While they don't intend to trade him now, it's possible the Browns will be approached by other teams interested in Mayfield and can find a deal that will help themselves and a player they once thought was the answer to their long search for a franchise QB.

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