BEREA, Ohio — Baker Mayfield won’t lobby for Lincoln Riley, but Mayfield believes his former college coach is ready for the NFL.
“Lincoln’s been ready,” Mayfield said Wednesday as the Browns prepared for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. “Just who he is, how he coaches, the respect level he’s had from all of his players. How detailed he is. He’s ready. But that’s his decision. He’s got something special there (at Oklahoma). I don’t think anybody’s going to blame him if he stays there for the next 20 years.”
The Browns and Green Bay Packers both need a coach and though neither team has commented publicly on candidates, Riley is projected to be on both lists. He commented in late October after Hue Jackson was fired that he doesn’t have “that itch” to coach in the NFL.
Mayfield played his final season at Oklahoma with Riley as his coach. The two years prior, Riley, 35, was the Sooners’ (and Mayfield’s) quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
“Obviously you guys can take it how you want,” Mayfield said. “I have a relationship with Lincoln. It’s been great. We had success. But whatever decision is made here I’m going to make the most of it. Obviously there’s been a level of comfortability with him in the past that I’ve had. But whatever happens, happens.”
Browns general manager John Dorsey has personally scouted the last two Oklahoma games, against West Virginia and Texas. All the teams have NFL prospects — including West Virginia receivers David Sills and Gary Jennings Jr. — but if Dorsey is even a little interested in Riley it was wise to see him coach a game in person.
Mayfield said he will not speak to Dorsey about Riley, nor will he try to convince Riley to join the Browns, saying, “It’s not my decision.”
But he voiced strong feelings about why Riley could make a transition not many have made.
“Like I said earlier, some of those coaches that are so successful, they have a standard and they live by that standard every day,” Mayfield said. “He does it with football, family. He’s just a great human being. Wants the best for everybody. Always encouraging.”
Mayfield said Riley the person would generate respect in NFL locker rooms.
“You get a locker room full of guys making a lot of money, obviously the egos are going to be there,” Mayfield said, “You have to have the respect of guys. You got to be able to get the best out of them even when they … they’re going to get paid regardless. So you got to be able to get the most out of them and demand it just by respect.”
Does Riley have the urge to try the NFL?
“I think down the road probably,” Mayfield said. “But, like I said, right now I’m not going to speak for him. But he’s ready whenever that time comes.”