Panthers Baker Mayfield's Revenge Game #Panthers

Baker Mayfield: ‘Off the Leash’ T-shirts trolling Browns weren’t his idea - but it’s clear he feels freed

Browns on what to expect from Baker Mayfield and the Panthers

BEREA, Ohio — Baker Mayfield revealed during his weekly press conference in Carolina Wednesday that the “Off the Leash” T-shirts he’s hawking this week weren’t his idea.

“Oh, man, I wish I could say I came up with the T-shirts,” he said. “Got a good team behind me and they put a few little hidden messages of like just my history, subliminal stuff in there. They do a good job and I just think people back home and people that have been following me for a long time like it. It’s just a fun thing to do.”

Mayfield didn’t even take credit for the design of the shirts, which included a studded dog collar, a doghouse surrounded by bones, and broken chains -- all a healthy dose of Browns trolling.

“Yeah, I didn’t have any say in it,” he said. “You know, I don’t get paid to make T-shirts. I get paid to play football and have fun with my my buddies. So that’s what I’m doing.”

It’s not so subliminal, however, that Mayfield felt chained in Cleveland last season and now feels free. He felt hamstrung throughout most of his injury-marred last season by Kevin Stefanski, sources have told, and believes he’ll be more of his playmaking self in Carolina. Stefanski, conversely, had to work within Mayfield’s limits last season.

“This system especially I think is going to fit me well,” Mayfield said. “As a whole offense, I think we’re going to continue to grow and I’m going to continue to grow the more reps I get in this system. Just being able to play free and the message is always ‘Have a reason for why I’m checking something.’ Yeah, got to have a reason for everything.”

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Mayfield, who criticized Stefanski after a narrow victory over the Ravens last season for getting too conservative, also seemed to take a subtle dig at the Browns’ run-oriented philosophy.

“You know they’re going to want to run the ball,” he said. “That’s the motive there. That’s never going to change and we’re going to want to just try and score a bunch of points and get our defense out there to play fast, and so we’ve just got to play complimentary football when it comes down to it.”

Mayfield, who got caught up in the flap last week of whether or not he said of the Browns “I’m going to (expletive) them up,” acknowledged that facing the team that gave up on him adds some spice. It’s been his M.O. all the way back to Texas Tech — getting himself fired up about one snub or another.

“Like I mentioned last week, I think it’s a great storyline,” he said. “Obviously there’s history involved. Leading up to this week there’s other games in the NFL that guys are playing their former teams (Russell Wilson vs. the Seahawks). It’s the excitement leading up to Week 1 that I think is building that anticipation up.

“For me it’s the familiarity. Any time you’re playing guys you know, it makes it more interesting, more fun. You get to smack talk with your buddies that you’ve been with for a little bit and you know how to poke and prod and get the best out of ‘em. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Browns players such as cornerback Greg Newsome II have vowed to talk some trash, and Mayfield often flourishes in such hostile conditions. But he denied he’s viewing it as a revenge game, even though he feels disrespected, lied to and cast aside by the Browns.

“No. I’m grateful for the time I had in Cleveland,’’ he said. “I started my career there. The fans there, a football town. Like I’ve mentioned multiple times, it ended abruptly and unexpectedly. But we’re here now. Everything happens for a reason and I’m rolling with the punches and I’m happy to be a Panther.”

Known for sailing passes in Cleveland when he got too hyped, Mayfield hopes to relax once he gets the first snap under his belt.

“Fortunately this isn’t my first rodeo,” he said. “Going back to Texas Tech when I was at Oklahoma, I was able to kind of relate that to my situation now. Got to play it one play at a time. That’s all that matters and put our team in the best possible position to win. That’s my job.”

“Really good football player,” he said. “Has made a ton of plays. Can make plays on schedule or off schedule. A ton of arm talent. We have our work cut out for us. We have seen him make a ton of plays so we know he is a good football player.”

He won’t, however, use Mayfield’s alleged quote to rally the troops.

“No. Really, no,” he said. “The motivation is we’re playing a good football team on the road Game 1. That’s really all you need.”

Mayfield joked that some love from his old teammates would be welcome.

“You know, a big hug from Nicholas Chubb would be a really, really good gift,” he said. “Just to hear him say a word would also be nice. You know, the mime that is.”

But he was all business about what this victory would mean.
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