NFC Team Predicted to Trade For Browns Baker Mayfield on Draft Night

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Getty Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on after a play during the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft has the reputation as arguably the biggest night of the year for blockbuster trades. In 2022, the Cleveland Browns are expected to be deep in that mix.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been one of the most talked about trade candidates in the NFL since the Browns inked former Houston Texans signal caller Deshaun Watson to the largest guaranteed contract in league history last month.

What makes Mayfield’s case even more interesting, however, is the lack of leverage Cleveland is perceived to possess in any upcoming trade negotiations. Part of that is on the team, due to its spurning of Mayfield in its immediate signings of Watson and backup Jacoby Brissett before testing the market for its four-year starter. A portion of the blame also falls on Mayfield for playing hurt all season and nuking his value after posting career-low stats nearly across the board. And the final factor involves several prospective trade partners around the league that decided to go another way this offseason — the Indianapolis Colts trading for Matt Ryan and the Denver Broncos dealing for Russell Wilson, just to name two.

However, at least one analyst believes that Mayfield is the “most likely” player in the entirety of the NFL to be traded on draft night, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 28. And the trade partner for Mayfield? The same team that sent Wilson to the Rocky Mountains for the second act of his already prolific career — the Seattle Seahawks.

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Seahawks ‘Likely’ to Trade For Browns Mayfield, Per Two B/R Analysts

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

GettyQB Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Alex Kay of Bleacher Report wrote on Wednesday, April 6 that New England Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are both likely candidates to move on draft night — but neither is as poised for a change of uniform as is Mayfield.

That is primarily due to the damage the Browns have done to their relationship with the young quarterback, Kay explained.

The relationship between the incumbent starting signal-caller and the organization was already deteriorating before the Watson trade took place.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Browns wanted to replace Mayfield with an “adult” at the position, and Mayfield requested a trade and authored a goodbye letter to the city of Cleveland after his employer brought in Watson for a meeting.

Although the saga is effectively in the rearview, it won’t officially end until the Browns release or trade Mayfield. That day could finally come during the 2022 draft, when several teams could turn to Mayfield to fill their QB needs.

It isn’t just Kay who believes that Mayfield will not only be traded, but that the trade will be completed with the Seahawks and will happen on, or even before, draft night. Kristopher Knox, also of Bleacher Report, offered his analysis on the subject Tuesday, March 29.

“Bringing in Mayfield to compete with [current Seattle QB Drew] 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.”

NFL Insider Says Seahawks Make ‘Most Sense’ as Team For Mayfield

Baker Mayfield Trade

GettyThe Seattle Seahawks could look to Browns QB Baker Mayfield to replace Russell Wilson.

As Knox noted, the Browns will likely need to pay a significant amount of Mayfield’s nearly $19 million salary in 2022, which they guaranteed when they picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported as much on March 25.

“If the Browns are able to eat some money, if the agent and the new team can work it out and come 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.

That is not an ideal situation for Cleveland, which may be without Watson for several games to begin the season due to his off-field problems involving 22 unresolved civil complaints that allege various forms of sexual misconduct.

Thus, the flip side of the coin is that the Browns hold onto Mayfield, start him a few times in Watson’s stead, and increase his value one of two ways — either through higher quality play than the QB displayed while hurt last season, and/or as injury strikes another team rendering Mayfield in greater demand.

The latter is the line that Browns brass has taken for the time being, as general manager Andrew Berry tries to regain some of the leverage he squandered by alienating Mayfield with his offseason moves.

“I wouldn’t say we have a specific timetable for the QB room,” Berry said during a March 29 Zoom call with reporters, 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.”

But there is risk in retaining Mayfield and running him out as the start to begin next season. The quarterback could play poorly and damage his value to an even greater extent, this time without injury to use as an excuse for his lack of performance. Mayfield could also get hurt again, in which case the Browns would have to eat all of his salary instead of just a portion of it. Not to mention, Cleveland would lose out on whatever pick they might be able to squeeze out of a hypothetical trade with the Seahawks.

Considering all the risks, it might behoove the Browns to get a deal done sooner than later, and there is no better time to trade than on draft night.

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Jason Erb
Jason Erb
1 month ago

The writer lost the entire point of the Berry context. The Browns have no intention of “running him out as the start to begin next season”. That’s why they signed Brissett. Whether Mayfield is traded or not, he’s not suiting up for the Browns, even IF he’s on the roster. He threatened to sit out during his little temper tantrum when the Browns were pursuing Watson…and he did it publically on social media. That was stupid on his part. Now the Browns are in position to say, that’s fine…sit! They’re not going to cut bait with him and let him go wherever he wants..that’s just not going to happen. He can sit as long as it takes, likely pre draft, or when someone’s starter goes down with an injury (happens every year) and some teams comes crawling. They’re not cutting him, they’re not eating his salary for him to play elsewhere..he can just “sit out” like he threatened so publically he would…that’s fine. They did it with OBJ until they could unload him, and that was mid season. This is the beginning of April…no hurry, no worry for Cleveland.

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