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Cleveland Browns willing to eat more than half of Baker Mayfield’s salary, Carolina Panthers not budging

Vincent Frank

The Cleveland Browns have a couple of quarterback controversies on their hands. That includes Baker Mayfield remaining on their roster with roughly five weeks to go before training camp despite the blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson.

Cleveland has been unable to find a trade partner for the enigmatic former No. 1 overall pick. Meanwhile, talks with the Carolina Panthers have seemingly stalled over money issues.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Cleveland is doing its best to make sure a Mayfield trade goes through. That includes eating up to $10 million of his $18.86 million salary for this coming season.

“Cleveland’s been willing to take on a fair amount of Baker’s salary, like $9, $10 million,” Breer said. For people out there who think that Cleveland’s holding on to Baker as Deshaun insurance, they wouldn’t be offering to take on a pretty significant portion of the guy’s salary if they were looking to hold him until there’s more clarity in the Deshaun Watson case.”

Albert Breer on Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield trade talks

This is a rather interesting development in that the Browns eating $10 million would leave the Panthers to pay a mere $8.86 million for a quarterback in Mayfield who would be an upgrade over Sam Darnold. For some reason, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer is not biting.

Related: Why Matt Corral could jumpstart the Carolina Panthers’ turnaround

Will the Carolina Panthers trade for Baker Mayfield?

cleveland browns trade baker mayfield, carolina panthers
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to that mere $9 million or so cap charge, the Panthers would likely have to yield a mere mid-to-late round pick for Mayfield. After all, the Cleveland Browns are not negotiating from a position of strength. As noted above, Mayfield would be a drastic upgrade over Darnold.

Behind Darnold on the Panthers’ depth chart sits rookie third-round pick Matt Corral and veteran journeyman P.J. Walker. It’s not like the Panthers have a geat quarterback room as they attempt to rebound following a disastrous five-win season. With both Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule firmly on the hot seat, one would figure there’d be more of a sense of urgency.

Related: Cleveland Browns schedule and game-by-game predictions

Cleveland Browns situation with Baker Mayfield

cleveland browns baker mayfield
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

The backdrop here for Cleveland includes the growing number of women coming forward to accuse Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct. The Browns dealt for the three-time Pro Bowler during the spring after separate grand juries opted against recommending criminal charges.

Now that Watson is facing even more accusations, reports indicate that he could be facing a year-long suspension from the NFL. This comes on the heels of the Browns reportedly having internal discussions about keeping Mayfield for the 2022 season.

“I do know there have been conversations about ‘we could need this guy for many games.’ Jacoby Brissett is fine, he’s not solidified himself as a starter in the league, but he’s been a totally fine backup. Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, is expensive. You’re paying for him anyway and he might start multiple games.”

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network on Cleveland browns QB Baker Mayfield

That sounds great in theory. It’s also highly unlikely given the current relationship between Mayfield and the Browns’ organization.

At this point, it’s likely either the Panthers or bust when it comes to a Mayfield trade from Cleveland. Previously linked to the quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks are set to choose between Geno Smith and Drew Lock as their starter. there’s no real interest in Mayfield.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also on the trade block, Carolina has options here. The team could very well come to the conclusion that Garoppolo and his winning ways are a better option than Mayfield, leaving the Cleveland Browns hanging in the process.