Bitonio, Mayfield win 2018 awards from local chapter of pro football writers

Browns left guard Joel Bitonio (center, 75) spikes the ball to celebrate TD by tight end David Njoku (85) in first half of blowout win over Bengals in Cincinnati earlier this season. Joining the celebration are TE Seth DeValve (87), QB Baker Mayfield (6) and WR Jarvis Landry (80). USA Today photo.

Mayfield named Player of Year; veteran left guard Joel Bitonio honored with Good Guy award, hasn't missed snap all year

**BEREA, Ohio –**Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and veteran left guard Joel Bitonio each have earned awards from the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) for the 2018 season.

Mayfield was voted the PFWA Joe Thomas Award winner as Player of the Year, and Bitonio was named the PFWA’s Dino Lucarelli ‘Good Guy Award’ winner. They will be honored at the 39th annual Akron Browns Backers banquet in May at Tangier restaurant in Akron.

The Player of the Year Award was renamed the Joe Thomas Award following the 10-time Pro Bowl lineman’s retirement after the 2017 season.

Mayfield’s 24 passing touchdowns are the third-most by a rookie in NFL history. He has thrown at least one TD pass in each of his 12 starts, trailing only St. Louis’ Kurt Warner (23 from 1999-2000) and Minnesota’s Brad Johnson (15 from 1996-97) for the most consecutive starts with a TD pass to begin an NFL career.

Mayfield’s 64.6 completion percentage for the season currently ranks second in Browns history behind Otto Graham (64.7 in 1953). 

His 3,349 passing yards are currently 11th all-time in Browns history and the second-most by a Browns rookie. Mayfield was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for November, the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 16 and has been voted the NFL Rookie of the Week five times.  

The ‘Good Guy Award’ is given annually to a player for his cooperation with the media and for the way the player carries himself in the community and with his teammates.

“It is just something that I have been instilled with my whole life,” Bitonio said in addressing the media after practice Wednesday. “It is something about respect. You respect people for the job they have to do, the job that you have to do. You guys are just trying to do your job.

“It is not hard to give you a day of the week or a couple of times a week to talk to you guys. It is something that you see (former Browns OL) Joe Thomas do, something (Falcons C) Alex Mack do, (Chiefs OL) Mitchell Schwartz do, so you just want to just be a team player about it.

“Someone has to talk to you guys so you might as well put a good foot forward,” Bitonio said, drawing laughs on the walk-off comment.

Bitonio, 27, who was a 2014 second-round draft pick by the Browns, is the first player to win the award in consecutive years and joins Joe Thomas as the award’s only repeat winners.

Bitonio is the longest tenured member of the Browns and team captain, and he has started all 15 games at left guard without missing an offensive snap this season.

Cleveland Browns PFWA

Joe Thomas Award - Player of the Year Winners:

2001    LB Jamir Miller

2002    RB William Green

2003    LB Andra Davis

2004    SS Robert Griffith

2005    RB Reuben Droughns

2006    LB Kamerion Wimbley

2007    QB Derek Anderson

2008    DL Shaun Rogers

2009    KR Joshua Cribbs

2010    RB Peyton Hillis

2011    LB D’Qwell Jackson

2012    K Phil Dawson

2013    WR Josh Gordon

2014    OL Joe Thomas

2015    TE Gary Barnidge

2016    OL Joe Thomas

2017    RB Duke Johnson Jr.

2018    QB Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns PFWA Dino Lucarelli

‘Good Guy Award’ Winners:

2001    QB Tim Couch

2002    DB Corey Fuller

2003    OL Shaun O’Hara

2004    DB Daylon McCutcheon

2005    OL Jeff Faine

2006    DB Brian Russell

2007    K Phil Dawson

2008    DB Brandon McDonald

2009    LB David Bowens

2010    OL Joe Thomas

2011    DB Mike Adams

2012    LB D’Qwell Jackson

2013    OL Joe Thomas

2014    QB Brian Hoyer

2015    QB Josh McCown

2016    LB Christian Kirksey

2017    OL Joel Bitonio
2018    OL Joel Bitonio

[Some information for this story was obtained from a Cleveland Browns news release]