Just one week ago the Cleveland Browns had visions of a first-round pick dancing in their heads as the return in a trade deal for Baker Mayfield. Now it appears the Browns will have to deal a pick of their own just to unload the quarterback’s cumbersome contract.
After Cleveland cleaned up in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes for the price of $230 million guaranteed over the next five seasons, there were at least five possible trade partners for Mayfield. According to ESPN’s Mina Kimes, that number is down to one — maybe one and a half. And to engage anyone to take on Mayfield, the Browns are going to have to sweeten the pot.
“Baker’s in a particularly tricky situation because the Browns did pick up his fifth-year option, so he has an $18.9 million cap hit. They need to move him, because if they release him they still have to pay him that money,” Kimes said on the Tuesday, March 22 edition of The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny.
“I think we’re now at a point where because of the dearth of options and because of the lack of leverage Cleveland has, they might have to give up a draft pick to move him and his contract off their books,” Kimes continued. “Then you’re looking at teams like Seattle, Carolina, maybe still Pittsburgh. I don’t know man.”
The latest Browns news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Browns newsletter here!
With Panthers Out on Mayfield, Browns’ Trade Options Grow Thinner
NFL Network’s Patrick Claybon, Kimes’ partner on her podcast Tuesday, said the market for Mayfield is even slimmer than Kimes suggested.
“Essentially somebody’s going to have to buy a pick to make this happen. Or maybe Baker just has to ball in the preseason. I don’t really know what’s left during this cycle to generate a ton of interest coming his way,” Claybon said. “Like, who are the buyers? I don’t think [Panthers owner] David Tepper is interested in another final year of another quarterback who was underwhelming for someone else.”
Kimes ultimately agreed with Claybon’s assessment of the Browns’ situation.
“I feel like Carolina … they want to just do something sexy,” Kimes added. “I feel like they can’t do another Sam Darnold reclamation project.”
Trading Mayfield to Seahawks Likely to Cost Browns Mid-Round Draft Pick
Kimes and Claybon ultimately agreed that even with Pittsburgh Steelers rumors still floating around the NFL universe, the last viable landing spot for Mayfield is with the Seattle Seahawks.
NFL analyst Ari Meirov and Pro Football Focus’s Brad Spielberger reached the same conclusion during a Tuesday edition of The Ari Meirov NFL Show.
“Now that the Colts spot is taken by Matt Ryan, I kind of feel like the only possible destination is Seattle,” Meirov said.
Meirov’s reasoning boiled down to the Seahawks having expressed interest in Mayfield previously and that the best QB currently in a Seattle uniform is Drew Lock, who is simply not as talented of a player.
“I do believe there were reports in 2018 that Seattle liked Mayfield. And there was a report … that Seattle at least considered offering Russell Wilson to Cleveland for the No. 1 overall pick. The belief at the time was that it was either for Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield,” Meirov said. “I don’t know if you can go into the season with Drew Lock as your guy. I could see a scenario where they do trade for Baker Mayfield and he goes in there at least to compete with Drew Lock.”
Kimes said the only way that Seattle does a deal for Mayfield, however, is if they get a third-round or fourth-round draft pick back in return.
“I don’t think [Mayfield] is as bad as the perception [of him] is right now based on the injured season,” Kimes said. “But you gotta get a draft pick to take on that salary. You certainly can’t give away [a pick]. When this all started, people were talking about a third-round draft pick [in return for Mayfield]. No, absolutely not. [Cleveland] has no leverage right now.”