The Seattle Seahawks could make a play for a quarterback that hasn’t been linked to them.
As the Seahawks possibly prepare for an era after Russell Wilson, Seattle will need a veteran quarterback to fill the void in 2022. According to CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, the Cleveland Browns‘ Baker Mayfield represents an option for Seattle after the Browns’ playoff-less season in 2021.
“This, of course, is dependent on Russell Wilson relocating, which is certainly possible after the Pro Bowler even identified preferred landing spots prior to 2021,” Benjamin wrote. “A total rebuild would be smarter, but Pete Carroll could double down on his run-heavy preferences by inserting Mayfield (or swapping him for Russ!) and pouring more investments into the defense.”
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Why Browns Could Move on From Mayfield
While the Browns experienced a great deal of success in 2020 with Mayfield — the franchise won a playoff game for the first time since 1994 — the team regressed this season. While the defense didn’t exactly help matters – the defensive unit ranks 20th in points allowed and 24th in passing touchdowns allowed — it’s clear Mayfield didn’t help matters.
The fourth-year quarterback has thrown 17 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions this season for a 60.5% completion rate and an 83.1 quarterback rating. Mayfield’s 3.1 INT% is the fifth-worst in the NFL and his QB rating ranks 27th in the league.
In other words, not only is Mayfield not lifting the play of his teammates as a former No. 1 overall franchise QB is expected to, he’s holding the team back (if anything).
While Mayfield isn’t at fault for all of the Browns’ problems — they did deal with a mid-season departure of one of their starting receivers (Odell Beckham) — it may be apparent that the two sides are not a good mix together.
Why Mayfield Could Appeal to the Seahawks
Mayfield is under contract through 2022 on an $18.9 million fifth-year option. Considering the Browns are still in contender mode after a stellar 2020 season, the cheap value of Mayfield’s contract combined with the hope he can still be their franchise QB will make it likely that he returns to Cleveland next season.
However, if a better option pops up, the Browns could release or trade Mayfield without penalty.
“The next question is, has Mayfield also played his last snap with the Browns?,” asks Benjamin. “Months after looking like he might follow the Bills’ Josh Allen as the second 2018 first-round QB to land a new deal, Mayfield looks as much a part of the Browns’ problems as a victim of them. He’s still under contract through 2022, thanks to his $18.9 million fifth-year option, but Cleveland can trade or release him without penalty. And recent offseasons have proven that big-name QB swaps are increasingly on the table.”
For the Seahawks, Mayfield would represent a serviceable option due to his starting and playoff experience (60 games and 59 starts). Most importantly, he would be a one-year rental unless he unexpectedly performs beyond expectations.
Following a tough Week 16 loss to the Chicago Bears, head coach Pete Carroll says the Seahawks are not attempting to “restart.”
“Not for one reason at all am I thinking that we have to restart this whole thing and create a new philosophy and a new approach and all that,” he told 710 ESPN Seattle on December 27. “I don’t think that. I think we’ve got the essence of the things that we need. We’ve got to build on them, we’ve got to support it better and we’ve got to continue to grow and progress. There ain’t no standing still, but there’s the foundation for doing things.”
Whether the Seahawks go with Wilson or another quarterback as the starter, one thing is clear — Seattle is not fully rebuilding for the 2022 season.