Ravens’ AFC North resurgence may hinge on Baker Mayfield’s status

Ravens, Baker Mayfield (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Ravens, Baker Mayfield (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2022 season, the Baltimore Ravens should absolutely want to face Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, as Mayfield staying in Cleveland would work to their benefit.

The league’s quarterback shake-up continues with Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson currently considering offers from the Saints, Panthers, Falcons, and Browns.

Cleveland’s interest in Watson poses as the most dangerous threat to the Ravens and the rest of the AFC since the conference is already teeming with young and talented quarterbacks.

Given a choice between playing against Mayfield or Watson, what would the Ravens prefer? The answer isn’t even close: Mayfield, any day of the week, all year round.

But Mayfield may not be around for much longer.

Even if the Browns don’t end up trading for Watson, reaching out to him in the first place suggests their future is no longer centered on Mayfield, and Mayfield posted what seemed to be a goodbye note to the franchise on Tuesday.

As unbecoming as it sounds, Ravens fans should try to convince Mayfield to stay on the Browns — it is, after all, in Baltimore’s best interest.

Mayfield’s career record against the Ravens is 3-5, and in those eight meetings, Mayfield recorded 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions and completed roughly 58 percent of his passes.

The Ravens should be rooting for Baker Mayfield and Browns reconciliation

While calling the Ravens Mayfield’s “Kryptonite” may be too far a stretch since Mayfield has underperformed against all AFC North teams (and in the league overall), Baltimore would love nothing more than to see Mayfield on the field again.

The Ravens know Mayfield — his flaws, his strengths, his style of play — and also know they can soundly beat him. A quarterback like Deshaun Watson, however, presents a fearsome enigma.

After missing out on the postseason in 2021, the Ravens will start this upcoming redemption season by trying to retake the AFC North.

The Cincinnati Bengals remain their fiercest rivals, but with the Ravens’ rejuvenated secondary of Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and new free agent signing Marcus Williams, the Bengals’ high-powered offense could swiftly be muzzled.

The Pittsburgh Steelers enter a quasi-rebuilding era with Mitchell Trubisky set to replace Ben Roethlisberger, but the Ravens don’t have much to fear when they’re going up against a quarterback who threw six passes last year.

The Steelers can hope all they want, but they’re getting a 2021 washed-up version of Trubisky, not the 2018 Pro Bowl version.

That brings us to the Browns, who only beat Baltimore once last season because Lamar Jackson was injured. A healthy Jackson would render the Browns a feeble doormat on the Ravens’ path to winning the division — as long as they’re up against Baker Mayfield.

The Browns trading for Watson or even someone like Matt Ryan makes Baltimore’s resurgence plan a bit more complicated, as such additional variables make it impossible to tell what kind of team Cleveland will be in 2022.

“The Browns doing Browns things” has served as a sad and oft-repeated gag line these past years, and hopefully keeping Baker Mayfield is a “Browns” thing to do.

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But if Mayfield is truly done with the organization and vice versa, the Ravens will be saddened to see one of their favorite victims go.

And they’ll have to brace themselves because Mayfield’s potential departure could blow the AFC North wide open.