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Cleveland Browns ‘highly motivated’ to complete Baker Mayfield trade, facing weak market

Matt Johnson

The 2022 NFL Draft is almost here and the Cleveland Browns are still seeking the right trade partner for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately, things still aren’t looking good for the former No. 1 pick to get a change of scenery.

Even before the Deshaun Watson trade, Cleveland wanted to move on from its former franchise quarterback. The organization took aim at Mayfield’s maturity and explored all avenues to improve under center before the Watson trade came together.

For his part, Mayfield also wants out. He wrote a letter to the fan base and publicly expressed frustration with how the organization treated him. Both sides agree that separation is necessary with different motivations driving the interest.

Related: Multiple NFL teams not sold on Baker Mayfield

Mayfield is seeking a fresh start, eyeing an NFL team willing to let him compete for the starting job. He is very confident in his abilities as a starter, especially after playing through severe injuries in 2021.

As for the Browns, it’s purely financial motivation. After guaranteeing Mayfield’s fifth-year option a year ago, the front office badly wants to get his contract off the books.

  • Baker Mayfield stats (2021): 3,010 yards, 17-13 TD-INT, 83.1 QB rating, 6-8 record

“The Browns are highly motivated to get this done, preferably before or around draft time. They’ve got six days to create that urgency; they want that $19 million guaranteed money off their salary-cap books. The best way to do that is to trade him. If they cut him, they still have to eat a lot or all of that money. Teams know that, so they’re sort of waiting in the weeds here. There just really hasn’t been a strong market.”

NFL insider Jeremy Fowler on SportsCenter regarding Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield

Of course, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted, there isn’t a team willing to absorb the entirety of Mayfield’s salary. While it’s a reasonable one-year contract for a mid-tier quarterback, Mayfield’s personality, injury history and concerns about his leadership hurt his value.

Related: Baker Mayfield trade not imminent, could go past NFL Draft

Cleveland would love to complete a deal as soon as possible. As of now, the organization isn’t finding an offer to their liking. The market could shrink even more if the Seattle Seahawks or Carolina Panthers draft a quarterback in Round 1 or on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

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Ultimately, rival general managers see no purpose in agreeing to a deal right now. With the Browns unwilling to eat a majority of Mayfield’s salary, there’s minimal value in acquiring Mayfield as things stand. If Cleveland wants to rid itself of the former No. 1 overall pick, a contract buyout like the one reached with Odell Beckham Jr. might be the lone solution.