Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield 'on the road to recovery' after successful shoulder surgery
Four months after Baker Mayfield's left shoulder popped out when he attempted a tackle on an interception return in Week 2, the Browns quarterback had surgery on the completely torn labrum he suffered.
Dr. Orr Limpisvasti performed the surgery Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. Limpisvasti provided second opinions on Mayfield's shoulder during a disappointing 2021 season for the Browns , who went 8-9 and missed the playoffs a year after they advanced to the divisional round.
To be clear, the surgery was on Mayfield's labrum, and the fractured humerus bone he suffered in the same non-throwing shoulder did not need to be surgically repaired, two people familiar with the situation told the Beacon Journal.
Mayfield tweeted a video message late Wednesday afternoon in which he called surgery "a complete success," thanked his supporters and stated his goal to overcome the adversity created by the injured shoulder.
“Surgery went great. It was a complete success," Mayfield said. "Had a great medical team. Took care of me and checked that box off to get this fixed, and now it's on the way to the road to recovery. This is one of those steps to get back to my true self. This past year hasn't been very easy. A lot of stuff has gone down. It wasn't easy on me or my family, so I appreciate everybody that's reached out, that wished me well and good luck on the surgery. All the prayers and everything, it definitely did not go unnoticed, so thank you.
"Thanks to everybody that's helped out so far. Now it's on the way to the road to recovery. It's not going to be an easy one, but it's going to be one that I'm going to remember, and it's going to be a special one. So I'll keep you guys updated. Thank you so much. But this is not the end of my story. It's just going to be one of those little things that I'll look back and remember that it's one of those challenges and adversity that I'm going to try to take advantage of and make me a better person. So thank you for everybody that's reached out once again. Let's go get it.”
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A Browns spokesperson said Wednesday evening in a statement Mayfield is expected to begin throwing in April, with a full recovery anticipated by the start of training camp, which kicks off in late July.
"Browns QB Baker Mayfield underwent successful surgery today to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder," the spokesperson said. "The surgery was performed by Dr. Orr Limpisvasti in Los Angeles and the likely time period for a full recovery is 4-6 months. We anticipate Baker beginning light throwing in April. He should be able to participate in the offseason program on limited basis while a full recovery is expected by the start of training camp."
On Tuesday night, Mayfield posted the following message on an Instagram story: "Appreciate all the prayers and good luck wishes on the surgery tomorrow. Excited to get it done and start the road to recovery tomorrow. I'll keep y'all updated. Thankful to have an amazing support group to help through the process."
Mayfield donned a black sling in the video he posted to social media Wednesday. Before sitting out the season finale on Jan. 9, Mayfield told Fox sideline reporter Lindsay Czarniak he expects to wear a sling for about six weeks after surgery and hopes to be able to return to work by late April.
The Browns are allowed to begin their voluntary offseason workout program April 18, according to the NFL.
Mayfield's left shoulder dislocated on Sept. 19 as he tried to tackle Texans safety Justin Reid, who had intercepted a second-quarter pass after rookie wide receiver Anthony Schwartz stopped short while running a route.
Mayfield began wearing a shoulder harness as a result of the injury and later revealed he had suffered a completely torn labrum and fraying in the shoulder.
Then in Week 6, the shoulder injury became even more problematic . Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt sacked Mayfield, sending the QB crashing to the ground as he suffered a fractured humerus bone in a 37-14 defeat on Oct. 17.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Mayfield had his streak of 53 consecutive starts snapped four days later when he sat out against the Denver Broncos. Backup quarterback Case Keenum helped the Browns prevail 17-14 on “Thursday Night Football,” and Mayfield returned for the following game, donning a bigger, bulkier shoulder harness. He also missed one game due to COVID-19, a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 20, and was shut down for the finale, a 21-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 9.
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Mayfield had his best professional season in 2020, his first year under coach Kevin Stefanski. He completed 62.8% of his passes for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns with eight interceptions for a rating of 95.9, helping the Browns go 12-6, including 1-1 in the playoffs.
But Mayfield took a huge step back in the 2021 season, completing 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions for a rating of 83.1. He went 6-8 as a starter.
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For the vast majority of the 2021 season, the Browns downplayed the extent to which Mayfield's injured shoulder and harness affected his performance. Those factors clearly made a difference , though Mayfield's struggles included poor decision-making and a lack of comfort in Stefanski's offense, too. Lower-body injuries Mayfield dealt with later in the season further complicate the conversation.
When the season began, Mayfield got off to a hot start. Through two games, he had completed 40-of-49 passes (81.6%) for 534 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions for a rating of 101.9. He even completed all 10 of his passes in a 31-21 win over the Texans after throwing the interception.
The first major sign of trouble emerged in Week 4, when Mayfield went 15-of-33 passing (45.5%) for 155 yards without a touchdown or interception for a rating of 59.5 in a 14-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings. He characterized it as a "piss-poor performance."
Even then, Mayfield bounced back in Week 5 by going 23-of-32 passing (71.8%) for 305 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a rating of 122.5 in a 47-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers .
Through six games, Mayfield had gone 116-of-173 passing (67.1%) for 1,474 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions for a rating of 97.8.
In the eight games after Mayfield suffered the fractured humerus bone , he went 137-of-245 passing (55.9%) for 1,536 yards and 11 touchdowns with 10 interceptions for a rating of 72.8.
In seven of Mayfield's final eight games, he failed to reach a rating of 92. In four of those games, his rating was in the 50s. The outlier was a 41-16 win over the Bengals on Nov. 7, when he went 14-of-21 passing (66.7%) for 218 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a rating of 132.6.
The victory in Cincinnati was the first game in which Mayfield said his left heel bothered him during the action . He suffered a right knee contusion on Nov. 14 in a 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots and didn't finish the game, explaining later a nerve had been struck and his leg had gone numb. He was listed on the injury report with a groin injury on Nov. 24, after a 13-10 win over the Detroit Lions on Nov. 21 and before a 16-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 28.
“This is probably the most beat up I've ever been in my career,” Mayfield said on Nov. 17 in the buildup to the Lions game. “It's not like it's one particular thing. It's multiple.”
Stefanski and General Manager Andrew Berry repeatedly defended the Browns' decisions to play Mayfield for most of the season, explaining the quarterback had been medically cleared and they believed he gave the team its best chance to win, even though he wasn't at full strength.
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With an unresolved long-term contractual situation serving as the backdrop, Mayfield was determined to play in every game, until the finale. The Browns had been eliminated from playoff contention on the eve of their 26-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 3. Then Mayfield took a beating , which included nine sacks, on “Monday Night Football” at Heinz Field.
In Mayfield's postgame news conference, he publicly committed for the first time to undergoing shoulder surgery . The next day, Stefanski said Mayfield would rest during the last game.
As Berry wrapped up the season on Jan. 11 with a news conference, he said the Browns “fully expect Baker to be our starter and bounce back” in 2022 .
Mayfield is under contract through next season by virtue of Berry exercising the fifth-year option on the player's rookie deal this past April for $18.858 million guaranteed.
The plans Berry spoke of last week could change this offseason, meaning it should come as no surprise if the Browns were to find a new answer at quarterback or at least acquire competition at the sport's most important position.
But if they stick with Mayfield, the franchise had better hope he can consistently perform at a higher level than he did in 2021, regardless of his heath moving forward.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield 'on the road to recovery' after successful shoulder surgery