In return, the Browns will receive a 2024 conditional 5th-round draft pick, which can be as high as a fourth-round pick.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report the trade, but the Panthers quickly followed on Twitter.
A new QB in Carolina: The #Panthers are acquiring former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield from the #Browns for a 2024 conditional 5th-round draft pick, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. Deal is pending a physical. All parties split the financials to make it happen. pic.twitter.com/xuTLqosmZm— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 6, 2022
The Browns and Panthers have been circling a Mayfield trade for months, but his guaranteed salary of more than $18.8 million was reportedly keeping the deal from being consummated.
The teams - and Mayfield - finally worked out the details as the Browns will pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary, the Panthers will pay $5 million and Mayfield agreed to cut $3.5 million off his base salary to get the deal done, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
More: The #Browns will pay Baker Mayfield $10.5 million this season, which means they trimmed over $8 million in cash and salary-cap space. The #Panthers will pay Mayfield ~$5 million. Mayfield agreed to trim ~$3.5 million off his base salary.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 6, 2022
The Browns selected Mayfield with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. He took over at quarterback from Tyrod Taylor in Week 3 and went on to set a rookie record for touchdown passes with 27.
The following season things went south under one-and-done head coach Freddie Kitchens, but Mayfield rebounded in 2020 to lead the Browns to the playoffs and a road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was Cleveland’s first playoff win since the 1994 season and the franchise’s first road playoff win since 1969.
Mayfield and the Browns entered last season with high expectations, but the season went off the rails when he suffered a torn labrum in his left, non-throwing, shoulder during the Week 2 game against the Houston Texans. Injuries continued to mount for Mayfield and he lost his mojo as the Browns missed the playoffs after an eight-win season.
Mayfield’s time in Cleveland came to an end in mid-March after the Browns traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson. It just took until today for it to become official.
The Browns released a pair of statements via the team’s website in announcing the trade. First up, owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who credited Mayfield his work on and off the field:
“We want to thank Baker for all his contributions to the Cleveland Browns. From the moment he was drafted, he gave his all for this organization and this city. With his fierce competitive spirit, he excited the fanbase and accomplished things that no player at his position had done in Cleveland for a very long time. He also made a difference in the community, whether it was hosting events at the Boys and Girls Club, honoring our troops, supporting the Special Olympics as well as countless other charitable endeavors. We are grateful for everything he did for this organization and wish him and Emily well in the future.”
General manager Andrew Berry touched on Mayfield’s competitiveness:
“Baker Mayfield infused our organization with tenacity and grit during his time as our starting quarterback. Baker’s competitiveness, toughness and ability to persevere were all characteristics that endeared him to our city as well as his teammates. He will always have a unique place in Browns history for what he accomplished and we wish him well as he continues his career.”
In his four years with the Browns, Mayfield threw for 14,125 yards (fourth-best in franchise history), 92 touchdowns (fifth-best in franchise history), 56 interceptions (eighth on the franchise’s all-time list), completed 61.6 percent of his passes and posted a quarterback rating of 87.8.
In Carolina, Mayfield joins a quarterback room that includes Sam Darnold, PJ Walker and rookie Matt Corral.
Browns fans have not seen the last of Mayfield, however, as Cleveland opens the 2022 NFL season on Sept. 11 with a road game against the Panthers. If Mayfield can beat out that less than august group of quarterbacks for the starting job, that will be a spicy matchup for opening weekend.