CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Baker Mayfield went to his denial play call.
Carolina's starting quarterback said that he never said anything malicious about the Cleveland Browns, who traded him to the Panthers this summer.
“First, I didn’t say that,” Mayfield said following Wednesday’s practice. “Everybody is going to write what they want (because) there is history there the last four years.”
NFL Network analytics analyst Cynthia Frelund, who was working as a Buffalo Bills sideline reporter for Friday night’s preseason game against Carolina, said on a podcast that Mayfield had some choice words for his former team following the game.
Frelund said Mayfield said “I’m going to (expletive) them up, ” when talking about Panthers' Sept. 11 season opener against the Browns while a guest on the “Around the NFL” podcast with Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler and Gregg Rosenthal.
“I walked up to him and said, ‘I’m so excited to see you, like, go kick some butt,’ I didn’t say that word,” Frelund said with a laugh in the podcast. “... Go kick some butt, especially Week 1, I like cannot wait. And he uses some expletives and I was like, ‘I just hope you’re like ready.’ He was like, ’I’m gonna bleep them up.”
Mayfield said he was shocked to hear about the report on Tuesday.
“If I wasn’t wanting to win then there would be a really big issue of me being the quarterback here,” Mayfield said. “I want to win at everything I do and that will never change. That is not how I phrased it, that is not even what I said, so we will leave it at that.”
Mayfield said he did have a conversation after the game with Frelund, but said “All I did was agree — I hope we win. It's pretty plain and simple. ... I don't think it should be harped on.”
Mayfield said it has become a big story because “I haven't given the media what they wanted me to give them this offseason, so this is what they think that I've said, and it's not.”
Frelund told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she should not have disclosed what was a private conversation on a podcast.
She said she was trying to be supportive of Mayfield and defend him.
The Browns traded Mayfield to the Panthers on July 6 after acquiring Deshaun Watson in a deal with the Houston Texans,
Cleveland agreed to pay $10.5 million of Mayfield's scheduled $18.8 million contract. The Panthers will pay him $4.8 million this year, while Mayfield took a pay cut for the remaining portion of the contract to help facilitate the trade and get out of Cleveland.
Since being traded to Carolina, Mayfield has been careful in choosing his words in news conference settings when talking about the Browns.
He has said the game will mean a little extra to him, but nothing inflammatory.
“I have taken this approach this offseason to go about my business and let people say what they want and just control what I can,” Mayfield said. “I have always had fun playing football and that's never going to change. I'm passionate about it and nobody can take that away from me. But off the field I have learned to keep it to the minimum and keep it within house and just talk to our guys and our people — that's what matters.”
Cleveland's All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett said Tuesday the Browns will use the comments as "motivation” and “fuel” for the game.
Garrett said he's not surprised that his former teammate would say something to fire himself up.
“I know he has that swagger, that confidence that borders on arrogance in some people’s eyes,” Garrett said. “But he’s always played with a chip on his shoulder, and I think we have as an organization as well. So however he feels or goes about it in his mind scape to prepare for the game to play us at the highest level for him, it’s whatever."
After spending one season with Mayfield, Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II is fully aware of the QB’s trash-talking abilities.
And like Garrett, Newsome said the Browns will use Mayfield’s comments for motivation.
“You try to find anything that can give you an edge,” Newsome said. “So something like that being said, whether he phrased it like that or not, we can just use that for our benefit and go out there and just try and get a win Week 1.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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