There are several teams in the NFL without a proven starting quarterback on the roster. The Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, appear to have one too many.
Pundits and fans can say what they will about Baker Mayfield, but he has two quality regular seasons under his belt across four years in the league and a playoff win in Cleveland — the latter of which is something no Browns QB has been able to boast since Vinny Testaverde got the better of the New England Patriots on New Year’s Day 1995.
Perhaps former NFL quarterback Chris Simms captured it best on the most recent edition of the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast when he said, “Baker Mayfield ain’t no f***in’ backup.” To that end, the former No. 1 pick is going to get a shot somewhere in the league, and it’s going to happen sooner than later.
For the moment, teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers are playing hardball as they try to squeeze the best deal out of a Cleveland franchise that appears to have mismanaged Mayfield’s trade value in their haste to sign the coveted, albeit controversial, Deshuan Watson.
But as the regular season nears, and coaches and general managers interested in keeping their jobs begin to feel the heat of running out a subpar player under center, a proven starter available at value such as Mayfield will begin to look better and better. At the same time, the fear of missing out on him in the name of holding onto a fourth-round pick, or the like, will intensify.
And while the Seahawks and the Panthers have led the league in Mayfield speculation over the last month or so, it is ironically the Houston Texans, Watson’s former club, may be the dark horse candidate to blink first and bring Mayfield into the fold.
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Texans Trade Proposal Would Net Browns Two Mid-Round Draft Picks For Mayfield
In a trade proposal laid out on Monday, May 16, by Jake Rill of Bleacher Report, the Browns would pick up a third-round pick from the Texans in next year’s NFL Draft and a 2024 fourth-round selection in exchange for Mayfield.
It’s quite possible that the Texans are content starting Davis Mills in 2022, after he showed some improvement as a rookie last season. But he may not be the long-term answer at QB for the franchise. And Mayfield could give Houston a better opportunity to improve at a faster rate.
Even though the Texans went 4-13 last season, they have some exciting players on offense. Brandin Cooks is a strong playmaker, while John Metchie III was taken by Houston in the second round of this year’s draft.
This may be the least likely of the projected trade scenarios, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The Texans may be on the rise as they continue to add young players to their core, and Mayfield could help them expedite that process.
Mayfield Shows Continual Unwillingness to Play Again For Browns
If every team decides to hold fast in an effort to push the Browns into giving Mayfield up for peanuts, it’s possible he could still remain on Cleveland’s roster come the start of the regular season in September.
On Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggested that if that happens — and the NFL decides to suspend Watson for multiple games due to his off-field behavioral concerns, an outcome that is generally assumed throughout the league — it might make sense for both Mayfield and the Browns for the QB to start the year under center in Cleveland.
“If there’s a lengthy suspension, it makes sense for everyone to bury the thing, for him to go out and start and maybe do well and get traded midseason,” Rapoport said on the May 16 edition of the Pat McAfee Show. “It benefits everyone if they can get past the feelings part of this.”
But Rapoport’s suggested outcome would require a level of buy-in from Mayfield that doesn’t appear likely based on recent developments. The Browns are headed to the Bahamas this upcoming weekend on a trip meant to cultivate team-building. However, Mayfield has chosen not to attend, per a Monday report from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
“Although Mayfield is still on the Browns roster, it’s unlikely he’ll l make the trip to the Bahamas, a source said. The Browns are still actively trying to trade him, and he’s still also rehabbing his surgically repaired left shoulder,” Cabot wrote.