However, without Beckham Jr we may see the best version of Mayfield in Cleveland, the one we expected to see in 2019.
Baker Mayfield and his 2018 success
Prior to Beckham Jr’s arrival in Mayfield’s rookie season, the Oklahoma gunslinger recorded 3725 receiving yards, 27 touchdowns and a passer rating of 93.7 despite starting the season behind Tyrod Taylor on the depth chart.
Without a superstar wideout on the roster, Mayfield thrived being able freely able to spread the ball around in his rookie season under Freddie Kitchens with four receivers registering over 500 yards receiving that season.
Mayfield’s top four receivers Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Rashad Higgins and Antonio Callaway all had at least four touchdown receptions that season. Landry served as a major weapon from the slot, Njoku and Higgins worked the middle of the field and Callaway served as a deep threat.
While Landry led the team with 976 yards receiving and 81 receptions, without Beckham Jr commanding targets Landry’s production should skyrocket once again.
Callaway is the only one who isn’t on the Browns roster anymore, but Donovan Peoples-Jones is capable enough to fill the role as a deep threat in Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
In addition to the familiar array of talent Mayfield has developed chemistry with, the third year gunslinger also has rookie tight end Harrison Bryant, who had a career game on Sunday against the Bengals and Austin Hooper, once the former Falcon returns from appendicitis.
Given head coach Kevin Stefanski’s desire to feature his tight ends prominently, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a heavy dose of tight end sets and receptions in the coming weeks.
Beckham Jr seems to have been a burden in Cleveland
Although losing Beckham Jr is and was far from ideal, it could stand to alleviate pressure on Mayfield. Since Beckham Jr’s arrival, the 2018 1st overall pick has had a tendency to try and force the ball to the wideout, more often then not it has ended badly.
The chemistry between the two has been questioned on a number of occasions. It appeared to be an extra burden on Mayfield last season as he failed to improve on a stunning rookie campaign, despite starting every game in 2019.
Beckham Jr’s future had been called into question prior to his injury after only having one above-average game where he went for 81 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys, and their truly shambolic defense.
Mayfield registered 3827 yards, 22 touchdowns to 21 interceptions and a rating of 78.8. Without that added pressure to force feed Beckham Jr may allow Mayfield to play his natural game.