The Cleveland Browns sent Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers in a long-awaited trade, a move some believe will come back to haunt them.
Shortly after the trade was reported, Skip Bayless — who has been a staunch Mayfield supported — chimed in with his take on the deal.
“Shrewd move by the Browns, trading Baker to the worst situation possible, one even more dysfunctional than Cleveland’s, sabotaging his ability to come back to haunt them,” Bayless tweeted. “Carolina is the NFL’s biggest mess. Baker will need to move again before he rises & shines. AND HE WILL.”
Mayfield is coming off a down season where he completed 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. The Browns finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs.
That being said, Mayfield played most of the season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, suffering the injury while trying to make a tackle in Week 2 against the Texans. He had surgery to repair the injury this offseason but will be a full participant when training camp rolls around.
Meanwhile, the Browns are awaiting the NFL’s ruling on a suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson. If Watson is out, the team will turn to veteran Jacoby Brissett to hold down the fort.
Starting Role Not Guaranteed for Mayfield in Carolina
The Panthers making a move for Mayfield has been discussed basically since Deshaun Watson landed in Cleveland via a blockbuster deal in March. The sticking point was Mayfield’s salary, which was set to be $18.8 million.
The Panthers will pay just $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary, while the Browns will pay $10.5 million, per ESPN. Mayfield converted the leftover money into incentives, which he can earn during the season — a somewhat bold move considering all of his money was previously guaranteed.
For the Browns, they gave up a conditional pick in 2024, which would be a fourth-round pick if Mayfield plays in the 70% range of snaps. If not, it’ll be a fifth-round pick for the Browns, per ESPN’s David Newton.
The sides had been in talks on a trade multiple times this offseason, but it sounds like the deal was finally pushed through by Mayfield being able to speak with the Panthers prior to things being finalized.
“The Browns granted the Panthers permission to speak with Baker Mayfield in recent weeks, which helped facilitate the trade,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweeted. “Mayfield spoke with coach Matt Rhule and GM Scott Fitterer and got excited about the possibilities with his prospective new team.”
While it appears that Mayfield has the inside route on a starting role, it’s not a guarantee that he’s the Week 1 starter when the Panthers host the Browns. David Newton of ESPN says the Panthers haven’t counted out Sam Darnold as being able to compete for the gig.
“The Panthers haven’t counted Darnold out. According to a league source, Mayfield hasn’t been handed over the keys to the offense. He’s just been given a duplicate set to compete with Darnold for the job,” Newton wrote on Wednesday, July 6.
Panthers OL Austin Corbett Happy to Have Baker Mayfield
Mayfield will work behind a Panthers offensive line that was reinforced in the offseason but was one of the worst in football a year ago. The team drafted Ikem Ekwonu No. 6 overall to protect Mayfield’s blind side and also signed Super Bowl-winning guard Austin Corbett.
Corbett, who found a home with LA after a trade from the Browns, is happy to have Mayfield on board.
“Baker’s a special character for that energy,” Corbett said on SirusXM NFL Radio. “Everything he does; he’s all about winning. He wants to win in every aspect of life.
“To get him into a room and just feel that competition with all those other guys, it’s definitely going to just raise the level of performance as a team overall. It’s a great pickup.”
Mayfield now has 10-1 odds to win Comeback Player of the Year, which would be quite the story for the former top pick.