The Cleveland Browns are playing a game of cat and mouse with the rest of the NFL when it comes to quarterback Baker Mayfield, but one analyst believes the games will end before the draft begins a little less than one month from now.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday said that the team is in no rush to move Mayfield unless the price is right.
“I wouldn’t say we have a specific timetable for the QB room,” Berry said, per The Athletic’s Zac Jackson. “Baker is a professional, he’s under contract, and we have the [salary cap] flexibility whether he’s on the roster or not. So we don’t really feel pressed to rush into anything that’s suboptimal.”
The trade market for Mayfield has dried up significantly since the start of free agency, with the likes of Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz, among several others, playing a game of quarterback musical chairs. But the Seattle Seahawks, meekly armed with Drew Lock as their best option to deliver the football to Pro-Bowl wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, remain a viable trade partner for Mayfield.
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report wrote Tuesday that Seattle will ultimately prove the landing spot for Mayfield, adding that he believes the deal will happen before the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 28.
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Browns Want More Back For Mayfield Than Trade Market Will Bear
The two biggest obstacles to dealing Mayfield are his nearly $19 million guaranteed salary in 2022 and how much the Browns want back for him.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported last week that earlier claims indicating the Browns were seeking a first-round pick in return for Mayfield were inaccurate. A top draft selection was likely never in the cards for Cleveland, but after the Browns signed Deshaun Watson and made clear Mayfield’s tenure with the team was over, they lost essentially any trade leverage they had.
“Heck, [the Browns] might even have to give up a pick to get that $19 million off their books, because these trades are not based totally on talent. They’re based on leverage, and that’s just something Cleveland doesn’t have,” ESPN analyst Mina Kimes said on the Monday, March 28 edition of NFL Live.
However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the Browns might be able to land some sort of draft compensation in return for Mayfield if they’re willing to pay some of his salary.
“If the Browns are able to eat some money, if the agent and the new team can work it out and comes up with some sort of answer [on] how to split or deal with Baker Mayfield’s salary, then I believe he will be traded,” Rapoport said.
Seahawks Interested in Mayfield at Reduced Price
Cabot reported further that the Seahawks have legitimate interest in Mayfield at a reduced price. However, if Cleveland takes a bite out of Mayfield’s salary, they’re going to want some dessert in the form of a draft pick.
Knox said he believes that cost is going to take the shape of a third-round pick.
“Bringing in Mayfield to compete with Lock would make a ton of sense at the right price,” Knox wrote. “Cleveland could potentially get a second-round pick if it eats a large portion of Mayfield’s cap hit. However, the Seahawks don’t appear to have any real competition on the trade market, so a third-round pick probably gets this one done.”