Wide receiver Robbie Anderson has publicly bemoaned the notion of adding Mayfield to the mix in Carolina alongside Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker. Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report offered a simple solution to that problem — trade the two players for one another.
Wharton’s proposal, published on Friday, June 17, would send Mayfield to the Panthers in exchange for Anderson and a fifth-round draft selection next year. That return is higher than most projections of what the Browns could acquire for Mayfield, particularly considering Anderson’s above-average talent level.
But based on Anderson’s previous comments about Mayfield, both direct and indirect, locker room issues between the wideout and the quarterback would almost certainly ensue should Carolina pull the trigger on a deal, which it is appearing more and more likely the franchise will do.
Starting quarterbacks, even those with recent struggles on their resumés, are more valuable commodities in the NFL than are wide receivers — especially middling ones. And Anderson, while indisputably talented, has been in the league for six years and has eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season only once.
His price over the remaining two years of his contract is high for a pass catcher who has never made a Pro Bowl appearance, so getting off that money while also heading off problems down the road makes sense for Carolina if they are truly serious about a transition to Mayfield under center.
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Trading Mayfield to Panthers Most Likely, Sensible Deal For Browns
Wharton laid out his rationale for the trade, adding details of what it might look like.
Cleveland desperately wants to shed Mayfield’s $18.9 million guaranteed contract. The Browns will be right up against the cap limit over the next few seasons, so every dollar they can save matters. Getting a draft pick in return to shed any part of that salary is just a bonus.
Instead of just going to save money, Cleveland can toe the line of improving their roster and shedding Mayfield’s deal if they take receiver [Robby] Anderson back. Anderson oddly tweeted he could retire prior to minicamp, and also previously posted his dismay about potentially playing with Mayfield. Anderson has a nearly $11 million cap hit in 2022 that rises to $21.7 million in 2023.
However, Cleveland would have to pay only Anderson’s base salary in each of those two seasons. That means a $1 million cap hit in 2022 and an $8.8 million hit in 2023. The Browns needs speed, and Anderson would certainly address that concern.
How the money on Mayfield’s deal would be split between the Browns and the Panthers is a detail the teams would have to work out, but the layers of Anderson’s salary and other elements involved in the hypothetical trade could theoretically allow for an easier financial workaround than some other previously suggested arrangements.
Anderson Explains Comments on Mayfield as Defense of Darnold
The Panthers’ interest in Mayfield is authentic, per a report from Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports on Tuesday, June 14. Jones indicated that there exists a level of “urgency” within the organization to acquire Mayfield as soon as possible and begin familiarizing him with the team’s offensive schemes.
“There’s urgency on Carolina’s side to execute the deal soon so Mayfield can get some time in minicamp with the Panthers,” Jones tweeted. “For the Browns, it’s the best offer they have. Talks ongoing.”
Anderson responded to the news with a tweet suggesting he might quit football for good rather than play with Mayfield.
“Ain’t gone lie. Thinking bout retiring,” Anderson said in a post that he later deleted.
The following day, on June 15, Anderson claimed his Twitter commentary was about supporting Darnold.
The two were teammates with the New York Jets before teaming up again in Carolina. Despite that, Anderson’s defense of his social media behavior by invoking support for Darnold strains credulity after he chastised the quarterback publicly on the sideline during a regular season loss to the New England Patriots last November. Darnold threw three interceptions in that game, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
“Just trying to be a good teammate to my quarterback, that’s it,” Anderson said during a media session Wednesday. “Just trying to defend the guy who is my quarterback in a sense. You know what I’m saying? That’s it.”
“I mean, that’s my quarterback. I’ve got to make him right and stand up for him,” Anderson continued. “I said what I said. That’s just my thinking out loud. … It’ll be what it is.”