When Baker Mayfield took his first look at the Browns 2020 schedule Thursday evening, he was sitting comfortably on an outdoor chair alongside a sunny waterfront view from his Texas home.
The scene certainly looked pleasant, but Mayfield, who spoke on a video call with the Cleveland Browns Live Schedule Release show, would much rather be on the turf throwing a football at the Browns practice facility in Berea.
Even though this portion of the NFL calendar typically features rookie minicamps and, eventually, offseason OTAs, no Browns players, coaches or team personnel have been at the Browns headquarters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's kind of driving me crazy that we're not even able to get there and all be together," Mayfield said, "but it's for the better of everyone and their health and safety. I'm really excited."
Instead of practice in Berea, Mayfield and the rest of the Browns have spent the past month participating in Zoom meetings and using other virtual methods to make up as much of the offseason workload as possible.
The Browns' 2020 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery
Those have picked up even more in the last few weeks for Mayfield, who has spent time getting to know some of the Browns' newest free agency and draft acquisitions. New arrivals OT Jack Conklin, first-round pick Jedrick Wills Jr., TE Austin Hooper and FB Andy Janovich, among others, will all need chemistry with their new quarterback. Mayfield wants to build that even though he hasn't met any of the Browns' new additions in person yet.
"It's been interesting to see everyone come together," Mayfield said. "It's brought a lot of people together, families included. We'll be ready to get back to work. That's the mentality of the guys. We can tell."
Mayfield, of course, has been in frequent communication with his new coach, Kevin Stefanski. He, as well as new Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry, wrapped up their first NFL draft together and have attempted to fill all the holes the Browns offense entered the offseason with.
Each day away from Cleveland, however, only increases the itch to return to the field and practice a new playbook as a team — not just through video instruction from a laptop or tablet screen.
"Every interaction I've had with Kevin has been great," Mayfield said. "He is who he is, and he's climbed the ladder quickly because he's well-respected and is an extremely sharp guy. He knows what he's doing and he knows the exact approach he wants to attack with. He just does that. He gets people to buy into that and believe that. I'm trying to get to know some of these other guys as we go along, and Kevin and Andrew have done a really great job of putting this staff together."
No one is quite sure when those first on-field practices will arrive, but the Thursday release of the Browns schedule — which includes a primetime home opener — built even more excitement to begin a Browns season that will feature some new faces and plenty of promise.
"Right now would be the first stages of getting everything out of the way and laying that foundation down where we can," Mayfield said. "It's been very exciting for me with all the moves they're making. I think we're putting the right pieces together."