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2 NFL teams interested in Baker Mayfield trade, waiting for Cleveland Browns to address key hurdle

Matt Johnson

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is still waiting to be traded, seeking a fresh start with a new organization. Even after months of turmoil between the former No. 1 pick and the Browns’ organization, it seems a deal still isn’t imminent.

It’s not for a lack of interest across the league. While a majority of NFL teams filled their quarterback vacancies this offseason, a few remain. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers have been viewed as potential landing spots for Mayfield.

Related: Carolina Panthers still open to quarterback trade

According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Carolina and Seattle are still both showing interest in acquiring Mayfield. The Panthers even came somewhat close to a deal during the 2022 NFL Draft, but Cleveland’s unwillingness to cover a majority of the financial hit is proving to be an issue.

  • Baker Mayfield contract: $18.858 million salary in 2022

The Browns already have an $18.8 million cap hit on their payroll because Mayfield’s fifth-year option is fully guaranteed. No NFL team wants to pay Mayfield that salary, especially coming off a disappointing 2021 season with concerns regarding his maturity and leadership.

It puts Cleveland in a difficult spot. Based on where things currently stand, the organization seems uninterested in budging off its stance and that will have a significant impact on the outcome of this saga.

Will Baker Mayfield be traded?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Even with two NFL teams interested in Baker Mayfield, the Browns don’t have leverage during negotiations. Both the Panthers and Seahawks have made it clear they are perfectly happy settling for their current situations.

Geno Smith is expected to start for Seattle in Week 1 and Drew Lock will receive an opportunity this fall. Because the Seahawks’ organization knows this is a transition year, there is no pressure to win right away and that eliminates the desperation to acquire another quarterback.

Related: Cleveland Browns refusal to cover Baker Mayfield contract prevents trade

There would seemingly be more pressure in Carolina. Heading into the 2022 season, head coach Matt Rhule is on the hot seat and owner David Tepper isn’t pleased with the quarterback situation. However, the Panthers traded a 2023 third-round pick to draft Matt Corral after a deal for Mayfield fell through. As of now, the organization is willing to roll with Sam Darnold until Corral is ready.

Most importantly, everyone knows this is an untenable situation for Cleveland. The organization doesn’t want a disgruntled coaching staff at training camp and it doesn’t want to waste $18 million in cap space on a wasted roster spot.

At some point, the Browns will need to either realize they have to eat more of Mayfield’s contract or they’ll risk an even worse outcome. If both the Panthers and Seahawks walk away, Cleveland will have little choice but to cut Mayfield this summer. The massive cap hit would remain in place and the front office wouldn’t get a single draft pick back for him, providing him with a fresh start at no cost.