The Cleveland Browns have struggled to find a trade partner for Baker Mayfield but don’t expect the team to be releasing him any time soon.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport joined the Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio and was very firm on the sentiment that the Browns will not be releasing Mayfield, really under any circumstance.
“I don’t see why it would be. If you’re going to release him you’re paying $18 million no matter what and not getting any draft picks. Surely, someone would pay $1 million and you would get a draft pick,” Rapoport said. “A release makes no sense if you’re going to pay the money anyway. Why wouldn’t you just hang onto him? Nobody knows if Deshaun Watson will be suspended — when, if and how many games, all that. Even if there is a possibility that he gets suspended, wouldn’t you want to hold on to Baker and maybe he plays for you. Would he want to? No, but he wouldn’t want to not play either.”
Mayfield’s tenure in Cleveland provided mixed results. After setting the rookie touchdown record during his first season and he led the team to their first postseason berth in nearly two decades in 2020. However, last season Mayfield was banged up, tossing just 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, slumping down the stretch as the team finished 8-9.
Injuries Around the League Would Boost Mayfield’s Value
While the trade market has been non-existent for Mayfield of late, Rapoport did note that there are still some situations in play where the former first-overall pick could get moved. However, he did pour some cold water on the Seattle Seahawks ever entering the mix for his services.
“There are a lot of scenarios still in play and several are still on the table,” Rapoport said. “I’ve never viewed Seattle as a likely destination. Carolina is still in the mix and then we don’t know what is going to happen. Maybe somebody gets a quarterback injury, maybe something happens in training camp or something unforeseen where someone needs a really good backup. … A lot of things are still in play.”
What’s been clear is that the Browns don’t want to eat a ton of Mayfield’s salary in any deal, which might not be possible at this point unless the scenario Rapoport laid out comes to fruition.
“Worse come to worse, they can say stay away while we hold your rights until someone gets an injury,” Rapoport clarified again. “They could Deshaun Watson him and say we’ve mutually agreed to have him stay away from the facility and we are going to hold him. Some quarterback will get injured and might that team want Baker Mayfield.
Panthers Still in Trade Mix For Mayfield
As noted by Rapoport, the Panthers may not be completely out of the mix for Mayfield despite drafting Matt Corral in the third round of this year’s draft. Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported on May 9 that the door is not shut on a deal.
“My understanding is the door isn’t 100% shut on the Panthers and talks regarding Baker Mayfield, but I certainly received the impression that Carolina isn’t in any rush, nor are they pressed, per league source,” she tweeted. “They will roll as is, if need be, per league source.”
The Browns have been fairly mum on how they want to proceed with Mayfield, with general manager Andrew Berry dubbing it a “fluid” situation.
“What I would tell you is probably the same thing I told you guys beforehand, that is a fluid situation,” Berry told reporters during the NFL Draft. “We will deal with it day to day. My focus has really been on the guys who we acquired and who are going to be rookie players in the next fall.”