Don’t expect to see Baker Mayfield at the Cleveland Browns facilities this week as voluntary workouts begin.
Mayfield has decided not to attend the voluntary OTAs, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. It’s not an entirely surprising development, considering Mayfield’s standing with the team.
Mayfield is essentially in limbo following the Browns’ acquisition of Deshaun Watson as his replacement. Mayfield has been clear that he felt disrespected by the process and how the Browns handled the situation. Even prior to the move for Watson, Mayfield demanded a trade out of Cleveland.
Showing up to the workouts could force the Browns’ hand, with Mayfield’s presence causing unwanted drama within the locker room. However, it appears that — for now — Mayfield will stay away.
Mayfield’s Large Salary Sticking Point in Trade
The Browns have yet to find a trade partner to take on Baker Mayfield but the team is becoming more willing to take on a chunk of his salary to make it happen.
The Browns have already offered “to take on a good chunk of his $18.858 million in guaranteed money for this fall to facilitate a trade,” per the MMQB’s Albert Breer. This is a bit of a change from what was previously reported, with the Browns unable to get a draft-day deal done with the Panthers for Mayfield, the sticking point being how much of his salary each side would take on. A deal appeared to be close prior to talks stalling out and Carolina selecting Ole Miss QB Matt Corral in the third round.
“I’m told the Baker Mayfield talks between the Panthers and Browns are halted,” Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweeted on April 29. “The two teams have not been able to come to terms on dividing up Mayfield’s $18.8 million in guaranteed money next season.”
The Browns don’t have any other option than to trade Mayfield, so the team acquiring him can call the shots. If Cleveland cuts the former top overall pick, they’d be on the hook for his whole salary, getting nothing in return. By eating an even heftier chunk of his salary, the team would still get at least some draft capital in return and be able to move on from the situation.
Browns Staying Patient Amid ‘Fluid’ Mayfield Situation
Some have theorized that the Browns are hanging on to Mayfield with the intention to start him if Deshaun Watson is handed a significant suspension from the NFL.
“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,” NFL Network insider Ian 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.”
The Browns have remained tight-lipped on the situation with Mayfield but general manager Andrew Berry won’t be jumping the gun on any trade.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Berry said while appearing on 92.3 The Fan. “We will deal with it day by day.”
Berry has stood his ground amid trade drama previously. Tight end David Njoku ask for a trade multiple times during the 2020 season and the Browns didn’t accommodate it. Njoku changed his tune and ended up rebooting his career with the Browns. He is now in talks for a long-term deal to stay in Cleveland.