Baker Mayfield was able to celebrate his wedding anniversary and a trade from the Cleveland Browns on the same day.
After some drawn-out drama, Mayfield was shipped out from the Browns to the Panthers for a conditional draft pick. The move sets him up to compete for a starting role during a season that will be massively important for the rest of his career.
Mayfield’s wife, Emily, posted a video on Instagram with Baker on Wednesday night following the news and the QB was all smiles as the couple celebrated their marriage and a fresh start to his NFL career.
Mayfield gave up some guaranteed money in the trade but still has a chance to make it all in incentives. The Panthers will pay just $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary, while the Browns will pay $10.5 million, per ESPN. His previous contract paid him $18.8 million for this season thanks to the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, which the Browns picked up during the 2021 offseason after helping Cleveland to their first playoff win in more than two decades.
Mayfield Will Have to Earn Starting Job in Carolina
It was a drama-filled offseason for Mayfield after a disappointing year in Cleveland. Mayfield completed 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions as the Browns finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs. He clashed a bit with the coaching staff but was expected to be the starter in Cleveland going forward.
However, all that changed when the Browns aggressively pursued and eventually landed embattled Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to replace Mayfield. Even before the deal for Watson went through, Mayfield felt like the pursuit of a new quarterback was not communicated to him correctly, leading to him demanding a trade.
“I have no regrets of my time in Cleveland, of what I tried to give to that place,” Mayfield said. “The respect thing is all going to be a personal opinion. I feel disrespected, 100%. I was told one thing, and they completely did another.
“That’s what I’m in the middle of right now. And you know what? I got my taste of it because I’ve had four different head coaches in four years. … I’m just looking for stabilization right now.”
He gets a fresh start in Carolina but it’s not a given that he’ll be the starter, per David Newton of ESPN.
“The Panthers haven’t counted Darnold out. According to a league source, Mayfield hasn’t been handed over the keys to the offense. He’s just been given a duplicate set to compete with Darnold for the job,” Newton wrote on Wednesday, July 6.
Browns Awaiting Decision on Deshaun Watson
While Mayfield now gone, the Browns still have a quarterback conundrum as they wait for the NFL to make a ruling on a suspension for Watson. Guesses on what punishment the league could decide to hand down ranges from six games to a full season.
If Watson is out, the Browns would turn to veteran Jacoby Brissett as their starter. Brissett, 29, has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over his career. He’s 14-23 as a starter in the NFL, albeit he’s been placed in some tough situations. Behind him on the depth chart sits Joshua Dobbs, who previously played for the Steelers but has thrown just 17 passes in his NFL career.
Thee Browns are on a collision course to meet up with Mayfield for Week 1 as they head to Carolina for their opener.