Unlikely AFC Squad Newest Trade Candidate for Browns’ Mayfield: Report

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Getty Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during the game against the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

There is a new team in the mix for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, and what an ironic trade partner that franchise would be should a deal actually go down after this year’s NFL Draft.

National football insider Jeff Howe of The Athletic took to Twitter a few hours before the draft began on Thursday, April 28, to discuss the Houston Texans‘ philosophy on its two early picks. He suggested that new head coach Lovie Smith would be likely to select defensive players at No. 3 and No. 13 unless the right offensive player fell into his lap. If the first round plays out that way in Houston, Howe said the team would be firmly in the mix for either Mayfield or San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, assuming neither is traded over the course of draft weekend.

“The Texans do like Davis Mills, but I’d expect them to be in the mix for Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield after the draft,” Howe wrote. “Doesn’t sound like either QB has gotten close to getting traded yet, but the Texans, Seahawks and Panthers should stay involved, pending their draft outcomes.”

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Texans Traded Pro-Bowl QB Deshaun Watson to Browns in March

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

GettyQuarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns listens to questions during his introductory press conference at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on March 25, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The irony in the Texans making a post-draft play for Mayfield is two-fold. First, just a little over one month ago Houston traded Cleveland their three-time Pro-Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson. Second, the Texans could have easily brought Mayfield back as part of that deal. In fact, as it looks now, taking Mayfield off Cleveland’s hands would have been doing the Browns a favor.

Cleveland received Watson and a sixth-round pick in 2024 in exchange for the following massive draft package that will be paid out to Houston over the next three years:

  • 2022: first-round pick, fourth-round pick
  • 2023: first-round pick, third-round pick
  • 2024: first-round pick, fourth-round pick

Mayfield’s projected value to teams like the Carolina Panthers or the Seattle Seahawks is in the ballpark of a Day 2 or Day 3 selection. If the Watson deal happened today, the Texans could probably swap the 2023 third-rounder they got from the Browns for Mayfield and call it square. Perhaps surrendering even one of the fourth-round picks would get the deal done. Though, that probably would not have proven true at the time the trade was actually made.

Back on March 20, when the Watson deal became official, the Browns were still looking for a high-end draft pick in return for Mayfield. It was Cleveland’s trade for Watson, the subsequent public fallout with Mayfield, and the signings of backups Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs that led to the bottom falling out of Mayfield’s trade value. Well, that and the nearly $19 million the Browns guaranteed the QB by picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

Had the Texans moved on Mayfield at the time, before all the drama struck Cleveland, it could have cost Houston one of the three first-round selections it acquired the team struck for Watson.

If no franchises bite on Mayfield during draft weekend, his value may dip even lower, allowing the Texans to swoop in and pick up a starting-caliber quarterback for pennies on the dollar in comparison to what the cost would have been less than two months prior.

New York Giants Enter Mayfield Trade Conversation on Draft Day

Getty ImagesQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns could soon be traded.

The Seahawks and the Panthers have for weeks been considered the frontrunners to land Mayfield, particularly if the Browns are willing to pay part of his 2022 salary as a stipulation of the deal. However, as the draft has moved closer, more teams have entered the fray.

One such franchise is the New York Giants, who decided on Thursday not to exercise their team option on the fifth year of QB Daniel Jones‘ rookie contract.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported the Giants’ potential interest in Mayfield on April 28. She laid out the details as follows:

The Giants haven’t been mentioned in trade talks for Mayfield, but it wouldn’t be the craziest notion in the world to consider upgrading from Jones, their No. 6 overall pick in 2019, this season and getting off to a stronger start. The Giants might also consider using their No. 5 or No. 7 overall pick on a QB, but [head coach Brian] Daboll could do a lot worse than Mayfield — who went 11-5 in 2020 and beat the [Pittsburgh] Steelers in the Wild Card round — as his starter this season.

Daboll, who helped turn Josh Allen into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and an MVP candidate, might be able to work his magic on Mayfield and get him back to his second-half of 2020 level and his rookie prowess.

Another team mentioned by former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum last week as possibly interested in a move for Mayfield is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay brought back Tom Brady this offseason after he retired briefly in February, but the Hall-of-Fame QB is in his mid-40s and playing on a one-year deal. The Bucs would trade for Mayfield as a backup and a hedge against Brady departing next offseason, either for retirement or another franchise.

Much like theoretical agreements with the Panthers and Seahawks, the Browns would likely have to assume some of Mayfield’s salary next season to complete a trade and send the QB to Tampa.

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Jon Klinkel
Jon Klinkel
4 months ago

This is getting so old. If these articles weren’t in my feed, it wouldn’t be so annoying.

Just a day or two ago, it was a “sure thing” he was going to Seattle. Nobody cares where he goes. He’s not better than ANY team’s current best (note: that’s not based on depth charts, as some teams don’t even seem to know who their best quarterbacks are) quarterback. It would be stupid to trade for him unless the Browns are paying at least 2/3 of his salary. Even then, he’d be expensive. There are one or two teams he’d only be 5th-best.

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