A lot of these rumors sprung up upon Cleveland’s initial interest in Watson, to begin with.
Even before it came to fruition with the trade from Houston, Mayfield himself has requested a trade from the Browns. This information comes to us via NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and is an absolute whopper.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter added another layer to this with a direct quote from Mayfield himself.
“It’s in the mutual interest of both sides for us to move on. The relationship is too far gone to mend. It’s in the best interests of both sides to move on.”Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield to ESPN
Mayfield’s request comes after he released a statement via social media after reports broke that the Browns met with Watson. The former college star was not subtle in suggesting that he’s played his final snap in Cleveland.
“I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting God’s plan throughout this process.
I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I’ve always done at every stage, and at ever level. And that will not change wherever I take my next snap.”Baker Mayfield on Twitter (March 15, 2022)
As for the Browns, they reportedly told Mayfield that they will not accomodate his trade request. But that was before guaranteeing $230 million to Watson. Now, Mayfield will surely be on the move, but where?
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Baker Mayfield contract and 2022 season
It’s been noted on a near never-ending loop that Mayfield will play out the final year of his rookie contract in 2022 with a cap hit of $18.56 million. The former Oklahoma star was unable to come to terms on a long-term extension with Cleveland last offseason.
- Baker Mayfield stats (2021): 61% completion, 3,010 yards, 17 TD, 13 INT, 83.1 rating
To say that Mayfield’s fourth season in Cleveland didn’t go swimmingly would be an understatement. He posted a 6-8 record in 14 starts while dealing with numerous injuries. This came on the heels of Mayfield leading the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff spot back in 2020.
It’s not an ideal scenario for either Mayfield or the Browns. If he’s retained, the quarterback will enter 2022 as a lame duck and might not even report to training camp based on his recent comments.
Ideal Baker Mayfield trade scenarios
Fresh off trading star quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are obviously in need of a new franchise guy. Despite what the team says publicly, there can’t be much confidence in Drew Lock being that guy.
Depending on what the Browns are asking for in a potential Mayfield trade, Seattle could use some of the capital it acquired from the Denver Broncos for Wilson (two first-round picks, two second-round picks).
With the Panthers having missed out on Deshaun Watson, that will likely open the door for the team to acquire Mayfield in a trade with Cleveland. We already know that Sam Darnold is not the long-term solution with the Panthers.
We also know that owner David Tepper has been pushing for Carolina to acquire a young franchise-type guy. Whether the front office believes Mayfield can be that guy remains to be seen.
New Orleans Saints
Yet another team that was firmly in the market for Watson, New Orleans might soon be headed for a backup plan after failing to land the star quarterback. If so, there’s no reason to believe that general manager Mickey Loomis wouldn’t check in on Mayfield. Right now, Taysom Hill is the only in-house candidate for the starting job.
Mayfield would immediately give the franchise a new face at the QB position, one the fans can get behind as he still provides some level of hope that he can be an above-average starting option.
Following the Matt Ryan trade, Feleipe Franks is the only quarterback on Atlanta’s roster. While there is a strong likelihood the franchise addresses the position in the NFL Draft, acquiring one is a viable option. Mayfield comes with risk, given the injury history, but he’s the best passer available on the market right now. If Atlanta wants to roll the dice on the former No. 1 pick, it likely shouldn’t cost much and the upside outweighs the risk.