Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens gave Baker Mayfield specific marching orders after his quarterback's rookie season.
Kitchens told Mayfield to get away from the game for a couple of months, to give his mind and body a break. He knew that Mayfield had gone from his final college season at Oklahoma to preparing for the combine and draft and then to OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the 2018 season.
"It was like a year-and-a-half process for him almost," Kitchens said at the NFL combine. "He needed to get away from football."
Mayfield has done that. He spent time in Los Angeles immediately after the season, made an appearance on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden" (along with an emu) and is vacationing with Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard in Turks and Caicos. Mayfield did radio row for Pepsi at the Super Bowl and made an appearance to accept the Professional Athlete of the Year Award at the Cleveland Sports Awards, but he’s generally slowed his pace.
"On our team, I tell our coaches all the time, I want them to have balance in their life," Kitchens said. "If you don’t have balance, if you’re all this, you’re going to take away from this. Well, what did your family do to deserve to be shortcutted?
"So we’re always going to talk about balance with our players, with our coaches. We want them to have balance because we’re going to get the best out of them on the football field if they have balance in the rest of their life."
Kitchens’ only concern: that Mayfield arrive for the offseason program April 1 ready to roll. His level of concern: zero.
"I just want him to be a better player on April 1 than he was on Dec. 31 or Dec. 30," Kitchens said. "And then a better player on April 2 than he was on April 1. And then let it go like that, like a day-to-day type deal and get better every time he walks on the field. And then we’ll see where we’re at in September and see where we’re at in October and December and so forth.”