Ever since Baker Mayfield posted an odd message to his social media, the rumors surrounding his future with the Cleveland Browns began to grow legs. But now that the team has mortgaged their future with a trade for Deshaun Watson, everything, and I mean, everything has changed.
As they danced with the idea of a contract extension that kept Mayfield in the Dawg Pound past 2022, they also began flirting with other potential long-term franchise quarterbacks. After an inconsistently down season, it appears the two sides will be moving on from one another. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed at this point.
With the Browns trading for Watson, the front office is sending a strong signal to the QB who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, essentially stating he’s not good enough to bring a title to Cleveland. This will inevitably lead to a trade, it’s only a matter of when.
Now that the Seattle Seahawks have traded Russell Wilson, even though there have been suggestions they like Drew Lock and view him as a legitimate starting option in 2022, the idea of adding Mayfield and his untapped potential may be too good to pass up for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Here are three trade scenarios where Baker Mayfield heads to the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.
Cleveland Browns dump Baker Mayfield’s salary
- Cleveland Browns trade: Baker Mayfield, 99th pick
- Seattle Seahawks trade: 72nd pick
There’s a few schools of thought here. Will Baker Mayfield have to be packaged with a draft pick or two, to entice another franchise to take on his salary for 2022? It depends on how each prospective team values him, and just how desperate they are to improve at the QB position.
- Baker Mayfield contract (2022): $18.85M
For the Seahawks, they have just under $16 million in cap space, which is more than enough to absorb Mayfield’s salary with some minor adjustments elsewhere. Right now, they don’t appear to have plans to contend, but that could quickly change by acquiring Mayfield for the right price.
Moving down in the third round is a small price to pay, considering they get to take a flyer on the hopes Mayfield can resurrect his career in a new atmosphere supported by a strong pass-catching corps consisting of D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Noah Fant.
In this case, the Browns sweeten the pot a bit by adding the compensatory pick received from the Vikings hiring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to be their GM. In return, they get $18.5 million in cap savings, while moving up 27 picks in the third round.
Why do the Browns do this? They’re desperate to take the highest offer they can get for Mayfield, instead of paying him his full salary, they will need all the cap savings and draft capital they can get going forward. Who really cares what it costs to move off from Mayfield at that point. It’s better than releasing him or having to send compensation along with Mayfield and his contract to ship him out of town.
Seattle Seahawks land upgrade to Drew Lock with Baker Mayfield trade
- Cleveland Browns trade: Baker Mayfield
- Seattle Seahawks trade: 41st pick
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes Drew Lock is better than Baker Mayfield is right now. Lock is 25, will be 26 in November, and Mayfield is 26, will be 27 in April. Both players likely haven’t reached their ceiling, but how much higher can they go?
- Drew Lock career stats: 59.3%, 4,740 passing yards, 25 TD, 20 INT, 11.3 YPC
- Baker Mayfield career stats: 61.6%, 14,125 passing yards, 92 TD, 56 INT, 11.9 YPC
For Mayfield, the belief is that there’s still a starting-caliber QB in there, somewhere. We’re not so sure that’s true with Lock, but he hasn’t received the same opportunities Mayfield has, having started just 21 games compared to Mayfield’s 59 starts. Lock could very well still develop into a starter, but the odds are stacked against him. Seattle is likely to bring in QB competition in some form this offseason.
If Mayfield is the contender, well there likely won’t be any competition at all, the job will belong to Mayfield. Though, the Seahawks may prefer to take their chances with another rookie. After all, Wilson was a gem in the third-round, maybe they believe they can mine for gold once again in the middle rounds, or even higher.
In this scenario the Seahawks part with their second selection in April’s draft, which is a small price to pay for a former No. 1 overall pick who may still prove to be a strong locker-room leader in the right scenario. He offers a better starting point and a lot more experience than Lock does and that just might be enough to get the Seahawks to pull the trigger on a Mayfield trade.
The Browns get to replace some of the lost compensation from the Watson trade, adding a top-40 selection in a deep draft class.
Cleveland Browns look to future after Baker Mayfield
- Cleveland Browns trade: Baker Mayfield
- Seattle Seahawks trade: 2023 second round pick
In this final scenario, the Browns would be adding future draft capital, which is still better than keeping Mayfield around in an awkward situation, no longer being the team leader. Browns leadership may just want the immediate cap savings, taking a chance on the Seahawks not being a playoff contender with the QB they’re setting them up with.
Any Mayfield trade will likely include some stipulations like we’ve seen each time Carson Wentz is traded. Whether it’s based on 2022 playing time or a playoff appearance is anyone’s guess. But being that the Seahawks missed the playoffs a season ago and have yet to improve, a trade focused on snaps played may make the most sense for all parties involved.