NFC South Team Emerges as Favorite to Trade For Browns Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield

Getty Images Browns QB Baker Mayfield.

The Cleveland Browns failed to trade quarterback Baker Mayfield during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but the way the night shook out has left one team the clear favorite to make a move for the spurned signal caller over the weekend.

The Carolina Panthers have been listed among the favorites to deal for Mayfield for weeks, as their current depth chart at the position consists of only Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker. The biggest impediment to a potential trade for Mayfield was always the Panthers selecting a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in the first round on Thursday night, April 28.

Instead, Carolina went with offensive tackle Ikem Okwonu, despite every draft-eligible quarterback remaining on the board. Furthermore, the Panthers decided not to trade back into the first round for a QB, choosing instead to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers take Kenny Pickett off the board with pick No. 20. The Panthers will not pick again until Day 3 of the draft, specifically during the fourth round with selection No. 137 overall, unless they execute a trade to move up before that.

May Kay Cabot of noted on Twitter Thursday night that Carolina appears as though it could be lining up to make a trade for Mayfield, considering how the Panthers approached the first round.

“The Carolina #Panthers, who have expressed interest in trading for #Browns Baker Mayfield, have drafted North Carolina State OT Ickey Ekwonu,” Cabot wrote. “Keeps alive the possibility of a trade for Mayfield.”

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Carolina General Manager Fitterer Addresses Panthers’ Plans at QB

GettyQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns talks with head coach Kevin Stefanski during the second quarter of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer spoke to Carolina’s plans at quarterback following the selection of Ekwonu with the sixth pick in Thursday night’s draft, including options that involve selecting a player in later rounds or looking beyond the draft altogether to a trade for a player like Mayfield.

NFL reporter Joe Person of The Athletic shared Fitterer’s comments via Twitter.

“Fitt on QB: I think we’ll look at every opportunity out there,” Fitterer said. “There’s still some really good players in this draft. And we’ll also look at every opportunity outside the organization.”

Quarterbacks Malik Willis of Liberty, Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati, Matt Corral of Ole Miss and Sam Howell of North Carolina remain on the board heading into Rounds 2 and 3 of the draft, which provides the Panthers an opportunity to trade into a Day 2 position and select one of the top-five signal caller prospects in this year’s draft.

Panthers Recently Said to Have ‘Inside Track’ on Trade For Mayfield

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

GettyQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns on the field before a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In the weeks leading up to the draft, the Panthers emerged as the odds-on favorite to trade for Mayfield.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport appeared on the April 15 edition of The Pat McAfee Show where he reported Carolina was “the most likely spot” for Mayfield to land, either before the draft or after. Cabot reported one day later that the Panthers had the “inside track” to get a deal done for the Cleveland quarterback.

Rapoport walked back a portion of his report on Monday, April 25, when he said that Carolina was unlikely to make a move for Mayfield before or during the draft. Because of that, Rapoport said he believed it could be months before the Mayfield saga comes to a close.

However, considering the events of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Panthers could make a deal sooner than later if Mayfield is, in fact, part of their plans moving forward.

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