Browns Make Final Call on QB Baker Mayfield’s Future: Report

Getty Images Browns QB Baker Mayfield.

A deal between the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans for QB Deshaun Watson is far from done, but a decision on whether Baker Mayfield will be included in any such trade has already been made.

Watson met with the Browns on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 15, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That puts Cleveland among a group of four teams considered serious contenders for Watson’s services, along with the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons.

But should Watson decide the Browns are his best option, and should negotiations commence to send the quarterback from Houston to Cleveland, there will be no interest from the Texans in the inclusion of Mayfield as one of the trade’s centerpieces. Those details are per a report Tuesday from Mary Kay Cabot of

“Baker Mayfield won’t be headed back home to Texas as part of the trade offer for Deshaun Watson, but he could be dealt even if the trade doesn’t happen,” Cabot wrote. “A league source tells that the Texans want picks and not players, which is a major reason Mayfield isn’t part of the Browns’ package. The Texans are also prepared to start Davis Mills, their 2021 third-round pick out of Stanford, again next season.”

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Multiple Trade Partners Exist For Browns QB Mayfield

Getty ImagesQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns could be on his way to a new team in 2022. 

If Mayfield isn’t destined to remain in Cleveland then the prevailing question becomes where will the 26-year-old quarterback end up? NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provided a couple of possible answers during his appearance on the Pat McAfee Show Tuesday.

“It wouldn’t make sense to me if Baker Mayfield was part of a Deshaun Watson deal,” Rapoport said. “I’d make Baker available to a team like the [Indianapolis] Colts or [Seattle] Seahawks.”

“I would think it’d be more, you give draft picks. Then you say, ‘Alright, Baker’s available,'” Rapoport continued. “It’s hard to include all these guys in the deal. It’s actually much easier to do them as separate deals.”

Mayfield’s Time With Browns May be Over Regardless of Watson Outcome

Deshaun Watson

GettyHouston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The amount of trade talk swirling around Mayfield in recent weeks has to be weighing on the young quarterback, who just one year ago was coming off of a playoff victory and in serious negotiations involving a long-term contract extension in Cleveland.

Now, after an injury-related surgery and multiple mid-season altercations with Browns fans, Cabot believes the organization’s public interest in Watson may prove the final straw in what has been a deteriorating relationship between the QB and his team for more than a year.

The Browns had stated publicly at the NFL Combine two weeks ago and reiterated to Mayfield’s agents that they fully expected him to be their starter in 2022, while simultaneously acknowledging that they’d explore all opportunities to upgrade every position on the roster. …

The Browns could always move forward with Mayfield and hope that he accepts his lot, puts his head down and wins football games like [Jimmy] Garoppolo did last season after the [San Francisco] 49ers traded up to draft Trey Lance. Garoppolo led the 49ers to the NFC Championship [Game], knowing full well he was likely gone after the season.

But the visit with Watson seems like a dealbreaker, and Mayfield and the Browns could be headed for a divorce regardless if Watson lands here or not.

That scenario would not be ideal for the Browns considering what is left of the quarterback market. Cabot mentioned they’ve had their eyes on Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr, though he looks now to be staying put.

The Falcons’ Matt Ryan could also be an option if Watson lands in Atlanta, though the price tag for the aging signal caller is hefty and the production he can provide may not be materially superior to Mayfield’s at this point in the former MVP’s career.

If Cleveland is truly beyond salvaging the relationship with Mayfield, then Watson becomes their last shot at entering the 2022 season with a high-level quarterback at the helm. The Browns had better not miss.

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