Baker Mayfield Would Sign With Steelers ‘the Very Next Day’: Report

Baker Mayfield at Heinz Field

Justin Berl/Getty Images Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on January 3, 2022.

The Cleveland Browns have precious few options when it comes to trading for quarterback Baker Mayfield, options that figure to be fewer still after the 2022 NFL Draft concludes at the end of next week. But just because teams don’t want to trade for Mayfield and his $18.58 million salary, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have suitors if he was a free agent.

“If for some reason the Browns—and I don’t expect this to happen—were to cut Baker Mayfield, I think he signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers the very next day,” said ESPN sports reporter Jeff Darlington during an appearance on Get Up on Wednesday April 20. Again, teams still do covet Baker Mayfield, they just don’t think they need to give up as much as the Cleveland Browns are asking right now.”

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Browns Insider Mary Kay Cabot Said the Steelers Would ‘Pounce’ on Mayfield

Darlington isn’t the first reporter to say that the Steelers would move to sign Mayfield, if he reached free agency. Last month, Mary Kay Cabot of said the Steelers would “pounce” on Mayfield — that “they would take him in a minute,” having noted that “there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity” in terms of other teams pursuing the former No. 1 overall pick.

That dovetails with what Darlington indicated on Wednesday, having spoken about just two teams being potential trade partners with the Browns, those being the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks.

The latter of the two “makes the most sense,” indicated Darlington. Meanwhile, the Panthers aren’t as good a fit as some might think.

“I get why we think that’s the spot, and I understand that $19 million is not that much for a quarterback, but it is a lot when you have already invested in Sam Darnold — $18 million,” said Darlington.

The challenge for the Browns is that other teams recognize that their options are limited, with Cleveland having committed $230 million to former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who takes over for Mayfield as Cleveland’s starting quarterback.

That’s why the Browns might ultimately feel compelled to release Mayfield, who failed to show up for the start of the Browns’ offseason program, as per ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter.

Baker Mayfield Feels ‘Disrespected’ by the Browns

In that case, Mayfield might view the Steelers as his preferred destination, in part because it would provide him an opportunity to try to stick it to the Browns.

On April 13 he told the Ya Neva Know podcast that he feels “disrespected” by the organization that drafted him. “One hundred percent,” he said. “I was told one thing and they completely did another.”

Mayfield said he would also be looking for stability at his next stop, having noted that he has played for four different head coaches in four years.

The Steelers could offer that, as head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

On the other hand, Mayfield would face significant competition for the starting job in Pittsburgh, coming in the form of former No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky, and maybe a rookie draft pick as well. Nor would the Steelers be inclined to make an extended-term commitment to Mayfield; if he wants Pittsburgh, he would likely have to accept a one-year “prove it” deal.

At any rate, the Browns don’t need to make a decision on Mayfield immediately, not with training camp still three months away.

If he did go to Pittsburgh, it would be the “ultimate heel turn,” quipped Brooke Pryor, who covers the Steelers for ESPN Nation. “Steelers have a history of bringing former first-round QBs into the fold. Mayfield would be a good fit,” she added.

“This will trigger at some point and teams will be interested. That day is just not today,” concluded Darlington.

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