With Baker Mayfield out for Cleveland’s season finale to undergo shoulder surgery, Case Keenum will start at quarterback, head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed in his Wednesday press conference.
It will be Keenum’s second start of the season. He also got the nod in Cleveland’s Week Seven win over the Broncos, finishing 21-of-33 passing for 199 yards with a touchdown.
There were points during the season where it looked like Keenum could replace Mayfield again due to the starter’s various injuries. But the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft continued to play week after week.
“One of the gutsiest, toughest performances from a quarterback in a season I’ve ever seen,” Keenum said of Mayfield on Wednesday, via Jake Trotter of ESPN. “[O]ne of the toughest guys I know. He’s a fighter and came to fight every day. … Tremendous amount of respect for him and it grew.”
Keenum added, “There were some weeks, getting [Mayfield] onto the field was a small miracle.”
In some ways, that raises the question why didn’t Stefanski and the Browns turn to Keenum more often to give Mayfield more time to heal? Keenum displayed in Week Seven that he is fully capable of running the offense.
Nevertheless, the Browns and Mayfield have some soul searching to do when it comes to their partnership. Mayfield is under contract through 2022 on his fully guaranteed fifth-year option. But beyond that, it’s hard to say where Mayfield’s future lies.
Mayfield completed 60.5 percent of his passes in 2021 for 3,010 yards with 17 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and three lost fumbles.