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Cleveland Browns refusal to eat majority of Baker Mayfield contract reportedly prevented trade

Matt Johnson
Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns badly wanted to pull off a Baker Mayfield trade during the NFL Draft, pushing to move the disgruntled quarterback amid his claims the team sabotaged him. However, it seems general manager Andrew Berry will only make a deal on his terms.

Both sides find themselves in an untenable situation. Mayfield desperately wants out and is seeking an opportunity from another team that will give him a shot to play. Unfortunately for the former No. 1 overall pick, evaluators are very low on him and there are red flags regarding his leadership ability.

It isn’t helping his trade value whatsoever. Even before acquiring Deshaun Watson, Cleveland had trouble finding a deal for Mayfield. At first, the organization’s asking price was too high and teams backed off. When the cost finally came down, the veteran quarterback’s contract stood in the way.

  • Baker Mayfield contract: $18.858 million salary, fully guaranteed

The Browns talked to the Carolina Panthers about a deal during the NFL Draft and the two sides seemed to come relatively close to making a deal. It even reached the point that Mayfield, who was previously against going to Carolina, warmed up to the opportunity. However, one factor prevented a deal.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Panthers required Cleveland to cover a majority of Mayfield’s salary for the upcoming season. When the Browns refused, Carolina traded its 2023 third-round pick to move up and select quarterback Matt Corral.

With the Seattle Seahawks out of the quarterback market and Jimmy Garoppolo also available, Cleveland is out of leverage. It can hold Mayfield on its roster, but that means he could make things hostile at the facility if he reports for training camp.

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Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

The only good news for the Browns is they aren’t in desperate need of cap space. Even with Mayfield carrying the highest 2022 cap hit on the roster, Cleveland still has room to pursue free agents and to sign its 2022 draft class.

However, the situation itself needs a solution quickly. While it’s understandable why the Browns have tried to avoid eating a majority of Mayfield’s salary, they don’t have any other option at this point. Even playing things out to see if another team’s starting quarterback gets hurt isn’t likely.

Unlike the San Francsico 49ers, with Garoppolo willing to be patient, Mayfield will make things awkward for his teammates and coaches. He doesn’t trust the organization and also hasn’t held back about expressing his frustrations publicly.

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Ultimately, the Browns might regret not agreeing to Carolina’s demands. Because as this hostile situation gets worse, Mayfield can play things out to force the Browns to cut him. If that happens, barring a buyout, it’s an $18.858 million dead cap hit for Cleveland.