The Cleveland Browns may not be operating from a position of strength when it comes to dealing quarterback Baker Mayfield, but they should have little trouble in working out a trade for their former starting quarterback.
Mayfield became expendable on Friday after the Browns completed a trade with the Houston Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson. While the Browns have yet to announce the deal, the Texans had no issue with getting the word out on a trade that has Cleveland sending first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024, a third-round pick in 2023, and a fourth-round pick in 2024 in exchange for Watson and Houston’s fifth-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft.
So what is the potential trade market for Mayfield?
There are a handful of teams that are in need of a quarterback and it is fairly reasonable that general manager Andrew Berry will be calling the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints if they have not already given him a call.
Mayfield has reportedly targeted the Colts as his top choice, but the feeling may not be mutual, according to The Athletic’s Zak Keefer, as the Colts are still dealing with the mess left behind by quarterback Carson Wentz:
To date, I haven’t heard anything to suggest they do. It doesn’t mean a deal won’t happen — the Colts’ options are limited, remember — but I see it as unlikely, based on conversations Friday. Over the last few months, the Colts were determined to move on from Wentz, convinced that he wasn’t the right fit as franchise quarterback. It’s hard to see them believing Mayfield would be — even as a stopgap — while they continue to look for their quarterback of the future in the draft.
The Saints and the Panthers are in the same boat as they were both pursuing Watson and now need to find a viable plan after Watson chose the Browns.
New Orleans might be more desperate as they don’t have much in the quarterback room, while the Panthers might decide that they should live one more year with Sam Darnold after trading for him and picking up his fifth-year option in 2021.
The Seahawks are also an option after trading away quarterback Russell Wilson unless they really want to roll with Drew Lock at quarterback this fall and fully embrace a rebuild of the roster.
Even with at least four teams needing a quarterback, Berry will still face competition as he works out a trade since the San Francisco 49ers are also reportedly planning to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
If the Colts, Saints, Panthers and Seahawks view Mayfield (or Garoppolo) as nothing more than a one-year fix, they could simply decide to sign a free agent at a cheaper price and not even bother with a trade.
Combine that with Mayfield’s performance last season while dealing with a multitude of injuries, Berry might not be able to get much more than a third-round selection in return for Mayfield.
Even so, teams get wacky when it comes to quarterbacks when they don’t have one, so in a league where Washington gives up a pair of third-round picks for Wentz and the Panthers give up a second-round, a fourth-round and a sixth-round pick for Darnold, a savvy GM like Berry might have one last surprise in store for Browns fans.