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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam denies saying team needs an 'adult' at quarterback in reference to moving on from Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam denied making a comment that the team needs an "adult" at quarterback in reference to Baker Mayfield.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam held a virtual press conference on Friday to address the team's acquisition of Deshaun Watson.

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But while the Haslams fielded questions regarding their process of trading for Watson, who has been accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct, at one point, the conversation shifted from Cleveland's new quarterback to its old one.

After acquiring Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Houston Texans, the Browns will now look to trade Baker Mayfield, who has served as Cleveland's starting signal-caller for the past four years. But while the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft's exit from the Browns has been a messy one, Jimmy Haslam made it clear that he never said that the organization needed an "adult" at quarterback in reference to moving on from Mayfield.

"Contrary to what is out there in the press, we think highly of Baker and did not get down on him," Haslam said. "I know there's a statement that 'we needed an adult in the room' and Baker felt that came from ownership, but that's not true.

Haslam's comments come in reference to a report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who said that the Browns and Mayfield were headed for a split this offseason regardless of the outcome of Cleveland's pursuit of Watson.

"They're breaking up regardless of whether or not Deshaun Watson ends up in Cleveland," Mortensen said during an ESPN free agency special. "The one thing I was told is that it's just not a match emotionally. Whereas Baker Mayfield's passion and emotional leadership was embraced at Oklahoma and even in the beginning with the Browns, things have changed and they want what they consider an 'adult' at that position. And Baker Mayfield probably is going to be moved."

While the Browns were ultimately successful in acquiring Watson, Mayfield remains on Cleveland's roster, due in part because of a dwindling quarterback market and the Oklahoma product's $18.8 million salary for 2022. But if there was any question as to whether Cleveland could move forward with Mayfield still on its roster, Haslam appeared to make it clear that the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner's time with the Browns was nearing its end as he wished him well.

"Baker gave it everything he had while he was here. Nobody could question his effort this past year and nobody could question the four years that he gave to the city of Cleveland. We wish him nothing but the best of luck," he said.

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