Despite the Seattle Seahawks re-signing veteran quarterback Geno Smith on Thursday, a Baker Mayfield trade to the NFC West team isn’t impossible.
As we reach a month into the new NFL league year, the options for where Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield could end up are pretty limited. Most teams have already made transactions to improve or refresh their starting signal-caller position for 2022. Or they are doing a deep dive into the QB options in this month’s draft.
One of the few teams where a Mayfield swap still seems logical is the Carolina Panthers. However, the former Heisman Trophy winner isn’t interested in playing for Carolina and they seem as likely as any team to select a quarterback with their first selection on April 28. Which leaves the Seattle Seahawks. That was at least until yesterday.
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2022 NFL mock draft
Seattle Seahawks re-sign Geno Smith to 1-year, $7 million deal
On Thursday, the Seahawks re-signed Geno Smith to a one-year deal worth $7 million. Bringing him back for a third season to compete with Drew Lock for the starting QB job. That seemed to put a nail in the Mayfield to Seattle conversation. However, with coach Pete Carroll admitting last month the organization was open to adding another QB even after Smith returned, there’s still a chance.
What makes it all the more plausible is that the Seahawks still remain a team that would benefit and improve by adding Mayfield, and give the Browns the chance to avoid a scenario they very much would hate.
As it stands now if Cleveland can’t make a trade they will have to cut Mayfield and the $18.8 million he is set to make in 2022. They would still have to pay $17.7 of that when another team signs him. But from the Browns’ perspective, picking up the majority of the salary for a player on another team still is better than having him be on the roster and the drama that could cause. Unless he was released and went to division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that would certainly be interested despite signing Mitchell Trubisky.
Why does a Baker Mayfield trade to Seahawks still make sense?
NFL insider Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk brought up that possibility and suggested Seattle should use that as leverage against Cleveland and laid out what a possible trade might look like.
“If I’m the Seahawks, I may say to [Pittsburgh] if you cut him you’re still paying him $17.7 million. And you don’t want him to go to Pittsburgh,” Florio said. “So if you want to be sure he doesn’t go to Pittsburgh, you send him to us, we pay him $1.035 million and you give us a sixth-round draft pick and that’s how we’ll do this deal.”
The case explained by Florio is sensible. Both the Browns and Seahawks would benefit in a trade. Cleveland has no leverage in any deal, but giving up a draft pick to avoid having to possibly face Mayfield on the Steelers twice next season might well be worth it.