A “new team” has emerged to thwart a Baker Mayfield to the Seattle Seahawks deal for the Cleveland Browns.
If it was not going to be the Seahawks, then the next likeliest team for Mayfield had to be the Carolina Panthers. Outside of that duo, you would be really grasping at straws to find an ideal landing spot for the former No. 1 overall pick. Trading him in-conference has never seemed likely, but what if teams like the New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers were interested in him?
Michael Balko reported on Sunday morning, “the Seahawks and the Browns are still in discussions regarding quarterback Baker Mayfield. A deal was close to done, but a new team has reportedly entered the Mayfield sweepstakes as well. Stay tuned.”
How much validity is there to this, or are the Browns just making up a “new team” for leverage?
Baker Mayfield trade rumors: “New team” emerges for Cleveland Browns QB
There are three primary holdups in Mayfield getting dealt: How much of his salary will the team trading for him have to take on? Will this team need to release a player or two to get under the salary cap to acquire him? And above all else, how long will Deshaun Watson be suspended for? If Watson is not suspended for the entire season, then it makes moving Mayfield all the more likely.
Mayfield is playing on his fifth-year option in 2022 worth $18.5 million, which is fully guaranteed. He will be a free agent after this season, so this fall would essentially be a trial run for him to see if he is a potential long-term solution for his new team. Interestingly, Cleveland has the most cap space in the NFL at $41.2 million. Carolina could take on all his salary with $24.3 million in space.
Admittedly, New Orleans and Tampa Bay are interesting potential landing spots for him. Mayfield is arguably better than Saints starter Jameis Winston, but New Orleans already has guys like Andy Dalton, Ian Book and the ultimate gadget guy in Taysom Hill on their roster. As for the Buccaneers, this is probably Tom Brady’s last year. Mayfield is way better than Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask.
And if we want to have some fun, what about the Detroit Lions? Cleveland could in theory swap Mayfield out for Jared Goff just to get him out of the building. The problem is Goff is under contract for the next three seasons and carries a $41.5 million dead cap hit for Detroit in 2022. The Lions also cannot afford Mayfield presently, as they do not even have $10 million in available cap space.
Ultimately, this feels like the Browns are doing their best to drive up the price on the Seahawks for them to take on more of Mayfield’s guaranteed salary. However, if Watson is suspended for the entire season, it serves Cleveland and Mayfield to mend fences and stay together for the kids for one more year. Otherwise, it will be The Jacoby Brissett Show for the laughable Browns franchise.
If the Browns do trade Mayfield, it may indicate Watson is not going to be suspended indefinitely.