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Baker Mayfield’s cruel summer

Browns quarterback’s next destination remains in limbo as the NFL enjoys its summer break.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have entered the NFL’s summer holiday, a roughly six-week period where the league and its teams go mostly quiet for the only time of the year.

That does not mean that general manager Andrew Berry can spend the entire time sitting on a beach and sipping Mai Tais, as nice as that sounds. Berry still has a few items to clean up before the start of training camp, like signing defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, the team’s lone remaining unsigned draft pick, looking at some additional help at defensive tackle, and prepping for the league to make a ruling on quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Then there is the continuing saga of quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is currently experiencing his own version of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer:

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone

The city is crowded
My friends are away
And I’m on my own

Mayfield’s time in Cleveland was effectively over the minute the Browns traded with the Houston Texans for Watson. Nothing has changed on that front, nor will a lengthy suspension of Watson bring Mayfield back to the Browns, even if he is a better option than veteran backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who is in line to take over if/when Watson is disciplined.

RELATED: Get ready for a Deshaun Watson suspension

Ideally, the Browns would have traded Mayfield the moment they acquired Watson, but given that Mayfield was still recovering from should surgery and carried a guaranteed salary of more than $18 million a deal was not coming at that time.

At this point, there is no need for Berry to do anything other than stay patient. Simply releasing Mayfield and eating his entire salary would be nonsensical, so despite a less-than-vibrant “Free Mayfield” movement, that is not happening.

While the trade market for Mayfield is not what anyone would call hot, there are at least two teams that have continually been linked to Mayfield that make sense.

The Carolina Panthers are one option as they are looking at the possibility of a second season with Sam Darnold, which can’t make Carolina fans sleep comfortably.

Carolina has reportedly been in talks with the Browns about Mayfield, but are hung up on how much of Mayfield’s salary they will take on, according to The Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan M. Alexander:

The Panthers renewed talks with the Browns earlier this past week before minicamp began, but nothing has come of it. The Panthers want the Browns to take on the majority of Mayfield’s guaranteed $18.9 million salary, similar to what Carolina did when it traded Teddy Bridgewater to the Broncos. In that instance, Carolina paid $7 million, while Denver paid $4 million. And though the Browns have shown a willingness to take on at least half of Mayfield’s salary, the Panthers are looking for them to go further, especially given the fact that the Panthers already have a lot of money tied up in their quarterbacks. Carolina is paying Darnold $18.9 million this season.

The Seattle Seahawks are the other team that has reportedly been kicking the tires on Mayfield, given that Seattle’s current quarterback room consists of Drew Lock and Geno Smith, which is not exactly the type of training camp battle that will generate positive headlines.

According to Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson, while there is mutual interest between the Seahawks and Mayfield, there is still work to be done:

The interest between the Seahawks and Mayfield is mutual, according to league sources. The Seahawks’ depth chart at quarterback dictates this situation as much as anything. The Seahawks have Drew Lock and Geno Smith currently competing for the starting job.

They have $16.3 million in salary-cap space available, so they would need to make some adjustments to absorb Mayfield’s current salary or extend him. Should the Browns budge and increase the amount of Mayfield’s salary they’re willing to take on to facilitate a trade, that could accelerate the process.

The Browns will open training camp with the rookies reporting on July 22, the veterans on July 26 and the first practice open to the public on July 30.

Ideally, not only will the NFL have made a decision on Watson’s status, but Berry will have worked out a deal to move on from Mayfield.

Until then, Mayfield’s cruel summer will continue.

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer