Browns Draft Day Trade Proposal Ships Mayfield to NFC For Two Picks

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Getty Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

An unlikely favorite has emerged in trade talks for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield as the NFL Draft is now just one week away.

Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reported on March 22 that there was “mutual disinterest” between Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers in joining forces next season, though it appears that has changed in the month since. Mary Kay Cabot of reported on April 16 that the Panthers have the “inside track” to trade for Mayfield. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport appeared on The Pat McAfee Show the day prior, during which he said the Panthers were “the most likely spot” for Mayfield to end up.

Considering the increasing likelihood of a deal, NFL analysts have begun working out what a potential trade between Cleveland and Carolina and centered around Mayfield might look like. Krisopher Knox of Bleacher Report suggested in a piece published Thursday, April 21, that a fourth-round selection in this year’s draft (No. 137 overall) and a third-round pick in 2023 might be enough to get a deal done.

The Sam Darnold experiment hasn’t worked out for the Carolina Panthers, which also missed out on acquiring Deshaun Watson this offseason. In this hypothetical deal, Carolina turns its attention to the quarterback selected two spots ahead of Darnold in the 2018 draft.

Joe Person of The Athletic reported that Mayfield is “not the only guy” on the Panthers’ list, but he is an option. It’s an option they can afford to take, as they have $30.9 million in cap space. Mayfield is set to carry a cap hit of $18.9 million in 2022. Cleveland may still have to eat some of that money to facilitate a trade.

While the return for Cleveland isn’t overwhelming, the Browns cannot expect much. They have no leverage with Watson on the roster. They’re not keeping Mayfield as a $19 million backup when he doesn’t want to be there, and the 27-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued season. His value is as low as it’s been since he was drafted as the top selection, and the Browns should be happy to get a pair of middle-round picks for Mayfield.

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Panthers Aren’t Only Team Still in Mix For Baker Mayfield Trade

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

GettyQB Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns calls a play during a 49-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Panthers may be the leaders in the clubhouse for Mayfield — who Rapoport said is more likely to be traded prior to, or during, next Thursday’s NFL Draft rather than after it — but they aren’t the only players in the game.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Sunday, April 17, that the Seattle Seahawks also remain contenders for Mayfield, despite the team’s recent signing of 2021 backup QB Geno Smith and their acquisition of QB Drew Lock via the Russell Wilson trade with the Denver Broncos.

“The Carolina Panthers have been implicated here. I believe, after asking around, that they’re torn in that building, that not everybody there believes Mayfield is the guy for Carolina long-term. But he might just end up being the best option of those available,” Fowler said. “Seattle still looms here. They kind of, sort of, moved on by re-signing Geno Smith. They’ve got Drew Lock. They’re looking for a developmental quarterback in the draft. But if the price is low or if Mayfield is released outright, then maybe they get involved.”

Interest in Mayfield Widens if Browns Decide to Release Him

Baker Mayfield

Getty ImagesQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

It won’t just be the Seahawks looking to pounce if the Browns ultimately do decide to cut Mayfield, but also an AFC North Division rival.

NFL insider Jeff Darlington appeared on ESPN’s morning show “Get Up” Wednesday, where he reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a strong interest in signing Mayfield should he become available, though they are not considered among the candidates to make a trade for the quarterback.

“If for some reason the Browns — and I don’t expect this to happen — were to cut Baker Mayfield, I think he signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers the very next day,” Darlington said. “Teams do still covet Baker Mayfield. They just don’t think that they need to give up as much as the Cleveland Browns are asking right now.”

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