Baker Mayfield is getting the Deshaun Watson treatment. He is handling with far less grace in 48 hours than Tua Tagovailoa did in over ten months.
By all reports, including their own, the Miami Dolphins are out of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes as the saga may finally be coming to a crest. The franchise appeared to be the front-runner to acquire the ultra-talented quarterback when he fell on troubling legal times, and rumored swirled for months as the Dolphins refused to publicly discredit the reports that they were looking to move on from Tua Tagovailoa.
They won’t say it directly, but the rumors certainly affected the team and the entire 2021 season. It was unclear if it was then-head coach Brian Flores or owner Stephen Ross who fueled the Watson train, but the Dolphins suffered because of it. Tagovailoa was mishandled during his rookie season, and his second year in the league was supposed to be his coming out party with a team that was officially “his”.
But the Watson rumors would not go away, and seemed to be a daily topic of discussion while Miami was trying to win football games. Yes, the schedule softened after Week 8, but it is very difficult to ignore the correlation between the trade deadline and Miami’s success last year:
Pre-trade deadline: 1-7
Post-trade deadline: 8-1
Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense struggled throughout the year, whether it was before the trade deadline or not, though there was never a public comment from Tua on the situation. Reporters would urge him in press conferences to answer questions regarding the Watson situation, and Tagovailoa played it cool for the most part. You could tell that the situation was bothering him, but was professional enough to keep his nose down and continue to work.
Fast-forward to present day. Flores is gone, Tua remains, and the new coaching staff regime has instilled confidence in the third-year QB that he is absolutely their guy going forward. Watson has moved on to a new crop of teams that he is interested in playing for, and one of them is the Cleveland Browns. Rumors began Monday that Watson was narrowing down his choices of teams, and it seemed as though the Saints and Panthers would be the front-runners. But there were also reports that the Browns were interested in Watson, an acquisition that would immediately end Baker Mayfield’s future in Cleveland.
Mayfield took notice, and took to social media to vent his frustrations:
Mayfield is certainly in his feelings about the proposition of the Browns adding Watson, and has proven at least one thing with his post: compared to Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield is softer than a roll of Charmin.
Tua was the center of the media attention, asked constantly on game day and even after victories to comment on his feelings about the Watson situation. It seemed that every week there would be a new rumor about a different person in the Dolphins building wanting Watson, stories that often made headlines in South Florida, making it nearly impossible to ignore the noise. Tagovailoa handled it with grace despite it having a clear negative effect on him, and never once leaked his displeasure through the media. For a solid ten-plus months.
Baker Mayfield has been through roughly 48 hours of it and has already come out himself and addressed the situation with what seems like a bitter goodbye to Cleveland. Since we are in the off season, it’s not like he had cameras pointed in his face every day like Tua did. The media isn’t attacking Mayfield’s abilities as the reason the Browns are fishing for Watson, which is exactly what they did with Tua. And no one is pressing him to speak on it every day; he decided to do that himself.
Say what you want about Tua Tagovailoa. Tell me he is not the future of the franchise. Tell me he has a noodle arm. Tell me that he can’t throw more than 40 yards down the field.
But I’ll show you a man who stood up in the face of adversity, while people in his own organization were trying to tear him down from the inside. I’ll show you a man who stuck with the regimen when times got tough, who never wavered in his confidence, and even won a few football games along the way.
And then I’ll show you Baker Mayfield and his sad little tweet.