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Baker Mayfield benched, likely impacts Browns draft pick

Browns, Panthers and Mayfield all losing the trade.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The two biggest storylines for the Cleveland Browns this offseason revolved around the quarterback position. Once the team decided to pursue QB Deshaun Watson, starting QB Baker Mayfield requested a trade. The team initially denied the request but, after surprisingly acquiring Watson, started looking for a trade.

The Browns finally found a trade partner in the Carolina Panthers but the value in return was minimal. Cleveland had to eat a large chunk of salary, Mayfield had to accept a reduction in salary and Carolina gave up a conditional draft pick based on the quarterback’s playing time.

After Week 11, the Browns are struggling at 3-7, with Watson yet to have played, while the Panthers have fired their head coach and gotten inconsistent play at quarterback.

Mayfield hurt his ankle earlier this year and missed some games and was the backup to PJ Walker when he returned. Carolina moved the former Heisman Trophy winner back into the starting lineup last week but the offense only scored three points and he threw two interceptions.

The Panthers have made another move at quarterback installing Sam Darnold, the man Mayfield was brought in to replace, as the starter and moving Mayfield to the second team. Darnold is coming back from injury and will see his first time on the field this season.

For Cleveland, that conditional draft pick is likely to be impacted. Based on one estimate, starting the rest of the season was the only way for that selection to be in the fourth round:

For the Browns to land a fourth round pick, Mayfield will need to play a total of 692 snaps at this pace. This means Mayfield must play an estimated 319 of the remaining 349 snaps for the Panthers this season.

Instead, Cleveland will be looking at the Panthers fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and Mayfield will likely be looking for his third team in three seasons this offseason. Carolina, likely, will be looking for a new starting quarterback for the fifth season in a row.

A lose, lose, lose situation for everyone involved in the Mayfield trade.