While the Cleveland Browns have always had the capacity to pull a surprise on their fan base, it is fairly safe to say that quarterback Baker Mayfield has played his final game with the franchise.
That may have been the case even before the Browns swung a major deal with the Houston Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson, but with Watson on board and quarterback Jacoby Brissett reportedly set as the backup, Cleveland has no more need of Mayfield’s services.
The only question now is who will be Mayfield’s next team and how will he get there?
After Watson chose the Browns it appeared that there could be a decent trade market for Mayfield, but then the Indianapolis Colts traded for Matt Ryan, the New Orleans Saints re-signed Jameis Winston, the Atlanta Falcons signed free agent Marcus Mariota, and the Carolina Panthers reportedly decided that another year of Cam Newton and Sam Darnold was the way to go.
That does not leave much for general manager Andrew Berry to work with when it comes to trading Mayfield. For the moment, the Seattle Seahawks look to be the best option as they have reportedly “bounced around the idea of trading for Mayfield, but they feel no urgency,” according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline.
Pauline also reported that there is a belief the Browns have no leverage if they find a team willing to take Mayfield off their hands:
People believe Cleveland has painted themselves into a corner with Mayfield. The franchise has no leverage in any trade dealings. The Browns must get rid of Mayfield before the season, and there’s no reason for teams to overpay for his services.
It’s not only about the compensation required for acquiring Mayfield but also how much of his guaranteed contract the Browns will be willing to eat as part of any trade. When the Browns picked up Mayfield’s fifth-year option, it came with a guaranteed payment of slightly under $19 million for the upcoming season.
I’m told any team that trades for Mayfield will want the Browns to absorb a portion of that amount. And while the Cleveland front office is working with Mayfield’s team to ship him to a place he desires, it is the franchise that is willing to accept the largest portion of his contract that could ultimately wind up with the former No. 1 pick.
Mayfield, for his part, is keeping busy. He’s in Texas right now working with Patrick Mahomes’ quarterback coach Jeff Christensen to improve his throwing mechanics and accuracy.
The idea that the Seahawks are in no hurry to make a deal actually could apply to the Browns as well.
If the reports are to be believed that the entire NFL has zero interest in Mayfield, his trade value can’t really go down much over the next few months. Berry can bind his time and see if the Panthers come to their senses, the Seahawks maybe pick up a sense of urgency after seeing Drew Lock in person, or an unfortunate injury strikes another team’s quarterback and that team is suddenly more open to the idea of acquiring Mayfield.
That last scenario is one that the Browns are not really interested in, however, as they reportedly would prefer to move Mayfield under less dire circumstances, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
Cabot also reports that Berry is not asking teams for a first-round draft selection in return for Mayfield, despite reports to the contrary, and that the Browns have no interest in paying any portion of Mayfield’s salary for the upcoming season as part of a trade.
While it would be nice for everyone involved for the Browns and Mayfield to officially part ways at this point, it appears that all parties will just have to be a bit more patient.