The Cleveland Browns have been unable to find any takers via trade for quarterback Baker Mayfield but cutting the former top pick is not an option for the squad — regardless of how long the situation stretches on.
The Seahawks and Panthers have been the teams most prominently in the mix for Mayfield via trade but have been unwilling to take on a significant chunk of his hefty $18.8 million salary to make it happen. The teams may be waiting to see if the Browns ultimately decide to cut Mayfield, but Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says that won’t happen, even if the situation stretches on into training camp. Per Cabot:
The Browns have no plans to cut Mayfield, even if he’s still on the roster at the start of training camp in July, a league source tells cleveland.com.
With Mayfield under contract for a fully-guaranteed $18.86 million, it makes no sense for the Browns to cut him and take the entire hit. They’ll subtract whatever he makes from his next team from that amount, but it wouldn’t make much of a dent.
At this point, if the Browns are adamant about getting the most bang for their buck, it makes sense to wait out the situation and see if an injury makes a team more willing to sweeten the pot. They probably won’t get a huge return but could get the benefit of getting more of Mayfield’s salary off the books.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said on May 1 while appearing on 92.3 The Fan. “We will deal with it day by day.”
Panthers Trade Talks for Mayfield Fell Apart With Browns
The Panthers and Browns had talks for Mayfield heat up during draft week but the sides were far apart on how much money the Browns would take on in a deal. The Panthers wanted the Browns to pay $13 million to $14 million of Mayfield’s salary, per the Charlotte Observer.
Cabot says the issue for the Panthers is that there is not complete alignment in their building over Mayfield being a significant upgrade over what they have available in Sam Darnold or rookie Matt Corral.
“Some are much higher on him than others, which has been an issue,” Cabot wrote on May 29. “If they were all on the same page and all in, they could have him on the roster in time for their mandatory minicamp June 14-16 — same as the Browns.”
That being said, head coach Matt Rhule did not close the door on the Browns making a deal for a veteran quarterback.
“We want to have a really strong quarterback room,” Rhule told reporters on May 13, “so I don’t think we would say no to a veteran at this point.”
Mayfield Eager to Bounce Back After Surgery
Mayfield did not show up to OTAs this week and is still rehabbing from offseason shoulder injury to repair a torn labrum. He suffered the injury in Week 2 and wore a brace on his shoulder following the injury.
Mayfield tossed just 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions last season as the Browns stumbled to an 8-9 record. After the down year, he’s eager to prove he’s still got it.
“I had great times my rookie year. I didn’t start in the beginning. I came in and had fun in the back half of the year. 2019 sucked. 2020 was great, made the playoffs. 2021 was miserable,” Mayfield said during an appearance on the Ya Never Know: You know What I Mean? podcast in April. “I’m just looking for stabilization right now.”
The sooner the better for Mayfield but it appears that he’ll have to wait a bit longer to figure out his next stop.