Browns Trade Proposal Ships Baker Mayfield to AFC Foe For Draft Pick

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Getty Quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns drops back to pass against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns can’t seem to make up their mind at quarterback.

The team hosted Houston Texans signal caller Deshaun Watson to a recruitment meeting Tuesday. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Wednesday that Cleveland would move on from current QB Baker Mayfield no matter how things with Watson turned out. And on Thursday after Mayfield asked explicitly for a trade, it was reported by Mary Kay Cabot of that the Browns would not honor his request.

The pace of the Mayfield-related news over the past 48 hours has been dizzying and its variations stark, though it all seems to combine to tell the story of a quarterback and a franchise that are no longer meant for one another. If that truly does prove the case, the question becomes where does Mayfield head next?

The possible answers are several, but Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports reported Thursday that the Indianapolis Colts are the top contender to do a deal for Mayfield should the Browns make him officially available.

“They are the team closest to contention without any clear answer at QB following the trade of Carson Wentz,” Benjamin wrote. “Mayfield, meanwhile, has proven he can win while leaning on the run, which the Colts are built to do. Unlike Jimmy [Garappolo], he at least offers a sliver of longer-term promise. And [the Colts] are flush with cap space ($54.7 million) to make it work.”

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Browns’ Return on Mayfield Trade Likely Day-2 Draft Pick

Getty ImagesQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

Mayfield’s value in a trade is a bit tricky to figure. There’s not question its down from 14 months ago when he led Cleveland to its first playoff victory since 1994. But after failing in his efforts for a contract extension that offseason, Mayfield produced the worst statistical year of his career in 2021. He was injured multiple times to boot and recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

But Mayfield was also the overall No. 1 pick in 2018, he has a playoff victory on his resumé and he is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal at a price tag of just under $19 million. Beyond that, he is one of the most prominent names left in the pool of potentially available QBs, which doesn’t get much better than Garoppolo or the aging Matt Ryan, depending on what direction the Atlanta Falcons decide to go.

According to Alex Kay of Bleacher Report, the value the Colts attribute to Mayfield at this juncture is that of a third-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft — No. 73 overall, to be precise.

The Indianapolis Colts are desperate for a quarterback after agreeing to trade incumbent starter Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders last week. While Indianapolis is acquiring several middle-round picks for the signal-caller, the move leaves a massive void in the lineup. Unproven backups Sam Ehlinger and James Morgan will be the only remaining QBs under contract.

Mayfield represents a massive upgrade over both, although the Colts might be reluctant to deal for another QB coming off a poor campaign. … Still, a marriage between Mayfield and the Colts may be the best option for both sides. According to [Pro Football Network’s] Tony Pauline, the quarterback reportedly prefers to wind up in Indy, citing its near-miss on a playoff appearance last season.

Kay also named the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions as possible landing spots for Mayfield, citing third-round trade value for the quarterback in each of the potential deals.

Mayfield Seeking Trade Out of Cleveland Should Help Colts’ Cause

Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns

GettyQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns has requested a trade.

The Browns may not be done with Mayfield, but it sure seems like Mayfield is done with the Browns.

Cleveland was driving the divorce train just a couple of days ago when the QB appeared to hit his breaking point. First, Mayfield issued a thank-you message to Browns fans in which he expressly claimed there was no hidden meaning. But two days later he was requesting a trade and telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter it was time for his relationship with Cleveland to end.

“It’s in the mutual interest of both sides for us to move on,” Mayfield said. “The relationship is too far fine to mend. It’s in the best interest of both sides to move on.”

The team has leverage with Mayfield under contract for 2022, but it is hard to fashion him back in a Browns uniform after the multiple comments and reports coming from both sides.

Cleveland will definitely get some calls on their quarterback in the coming days and if the right offer appears, that might be all it takes. After all, it’s not as if the Browns haven’t changed their minds on the Mayfield before — most notably twice over the previous week alone.

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