NFL rumors: Surprise team is ‘most likely’ landing spot for Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

One team to keep an eye on potentially trading for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is the Carolina Panthers.

Live from his car on Friday’s installment of The Pat McAfee Show, Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network said the team he sees Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield getting traded to is the Carolina Panthers.

After briefly losing connection, as well as McAfee’s attention, Rapoport returned to the good side of the internet to answer second hour co-host A.J. Hawk’s hard-hitting question about the former Browns starting quarterback’s fate. Rapoport said he did not understand Mayfield’s affinity for the Seattle Seahawks, as they already have Drew Lock and Geno Smith. He has Carolina on his mind.

In short, Rapoport believes an NFC team in dire need of a starter (Carolina) or a team looking at a very-high end backup like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be where Mayfield winds up playing out his contract year.

NFL rumors: Carolina Panthers are a dark horse team to trade for Baker Mayfield

Seattle re-signing Smith complicates the Seahawks trading for Mayfield for sure. Though all four NFC South teams could technically be in play for Mayfield, Rapoport seems to think Mayfield could beat out Sam Darnold for the Panthers job, as well as Blaine Gabbert for the backup job in Tampa Bay. Of course, it does not feel like a deal will happen until the dust settles after the NFL Draft.

Carolina, Seattle, the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints are all teams that could conceivably take a quarterback in the first round in two weeks. The Panthers have the No. 6 pick, the Falcons at No. 8, the Seahawks at No. 9 and the Saints with a pair in the teens they could repackage to trade up into the top 10. Regardless, Mayfield’s market grows after the NFL Draft.

For now, it would be foolish to trade for him with five potential first-round picks at the quarterback position as part of the 2022 NFL Draft (Matt Corral, Sam Howell, Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis). Though Carolina may select one of these five, the Panthers just might be the team that the Browns orchestrate a trade to involving their former No. 1 overall pick.

What the Panthers decide to do at No. 6 may end up shaping the entire NFL Draft and its fallout.

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