Baker Mayfield Made Key Contract Concessions in Browns Trade

Getty Images Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns played hardball with the Carolina Panthers for months but in the end it was a concession by the trade’s centerpiece, quarterback Baker Mayfield, that got the deal done.

Serious discussions between the teams were reported as early as NFL Draft weekend, with talks breaking down over an inability to agree on who would pay what when it came to Mayfield’s nearly $19 million guaranteed salary this season. He will become a free agent in 2023.

On Wednesday, July 6, the two sides were finally able to reach an accord with the help of the quarterback himself, who gave back millions in base salary to secure his departure to Carolina. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the details via Twitter.

“More: The #Browns will pay Baker Mayfield $10.5 million this season, which means they trimmed over $8 million in cash and salary-cap space,” Garafolo tweeted. “The #Panthers will pay Mayfield $5 million. Mayfield agreed to trim $3.5 million off his base salary.”

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Mayfield Can Earn Back Forfeited Salary as Part of Trade Agreement

Baker Mayfield

Getty ImagesQuarterback Baker Mayfield, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, was traded to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

Cleveland ultimately saved more than $8 million, which will be added to the team’s salary cap for 2022. The Browns already led the league in cap space and will now have more than $48 million at their disposal, per Over The Cap.

The Panthers secured a legitimate NFL starting quarterback for the price of $5 million and a late-round draft selection two years from now.

Mayfield gets a do-over with a new team and a fresh shot at winning the second starting job of his career. It cost him $3.5 million, though Garafolo reported further that the quarterback will have a chance to earn all of that money back through a variety of performance-based incentives.

Mayfield finished his career with the Browns with a regular season record of 29-30 and a postseason record of 1-1, leading the franchise to its first playoff victory in more than 25 years. He completed 61.6% of his passes for 14,125 yards and threw for 92 touchdowns compared to just 56 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference. Mayfield also rushed the ball 158 times for 571 yards and five touchdowns as a member of the Browns.

Browns Front Office Bids Farewell to Mayfield With Public Statements

Baker Mayfield

Getty ImagesBaker Mayfield no longer plays quarterback for the Cleveland Browns as of Wednesday, July 6, 2022. 

Various members of the Browns organization released statements on Mayfield’s departure Wednesday, including general manager Andrew Berry.

“Baker Mayfield infused our organization with tenacity and grit during his time as our starting quarterback,” Berry said. “Baker’s competitiveness, toughness and ability to persevere were all characteristics that endeared him to our city, as well as his teammates. He will always have a unique place in Browns history for what he accomplished and we wish him well as he continues his career.”

Mayfield may continue that career as an opponent of the Browns before taking the field against any other franchise. A former No. 1 pick in 2018, Mayfield still needs to beat out Sam Darnold for the starting job in Carolina, who was the third overall draft selection that same year. The Panthers traded with the New York Jets for Darnold just last season. Also on the Panthers’ depth chart are quarterbacks Matt Corral, a rookie drafted in the third round in 2022, and backup P.J. Walker.

Whoever wins the Panthers’ starting job will open the season at home against the visiting Browns at noon Eastern Standard Time on September 11.

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