Note: This was our 2022 April Fools post.
Earlier this week, we looked at Andrew Berry’s “stealth shot at the competition” in which his $230 million agreement with Deshaun Watson set a new precedent that will have ramifications on the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals when they attempt to extend the contracts of Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow, respectively.
At the owner’s meetings this week, Berry made reference to the flexibility they have with their quarterback room right now, and that there is no rush to trading or cutting Baker Mayfield. While that seems like something that is very difficult to believe at this point, Josina Anderson fueled the fire even more with this tweet:
While anything can happen my understanding is the #Browns currently plan a patient approach w/ Baker Mayfield's situation. It's also entirely possible they enter the regular season with Mayfield still on the roster & in position to suit up pending Deshaun Watson's playing status.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 29, 2022
There might be another reason why Berry is keeping Mayfield on the roster, though — the league’s recent partnership with the XFL. When the partnership was announced, it was made clear that it would not be seen as a “feeder or developmental league,” but a “testing grounds for the NFL” to “test and develop new rules, innovations, ideas, and more.” Per Zac Jackson of The Athletic, Berry and the Browns’ front office have been discussing strategic ways to offload Mayfield’s rights to the XFL in a move that could shave off half of the cap hit he is owed in 2022.
Essentially, Cleveland would reach a deal with the XFL to send them $1 million over each of the next 10 years, which they would then distribute each year to Mayfield. Mayfield would then be released by the Browns so that he would have the choice to sign with whoever he wants to — an incentive that is very important to the former first overall pick — in exchange for Mayfield being an advocate for the XFL and even participating in their Spring 2023 season, if healthy enough to do so. In order to get back in the limelight, the XFL needs a face of the league, and they think Mayfield could be their guy for that.
There are a lot of “ifs” in all of that, though, and I’d be hard-pressed into thinking that the NFL will actually permit such a deal. However, if the Browns are truly looking into it, then maybe this is the type of “innovative idea” that the league was looking to explore when their partnership with the XFL was announced.
Click here to read more from Jackson's article on the Mayfield rumors and what his camp might think of it.