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    NFC South Contender Urged to Trade for Browns QB Baker Mayfield


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    Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are being urged to trade for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who would give the NFC South contender a strong succession plan to Tom Brady.

    The Browns have been looking for a trade partner to take on the former No. 1 overall pick after acquiring Deshaun Watson but the market has been slim, with most of the QB-needy teams around the league shoring up the position early in free agency or looking towards the draft.

    Former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky thinks Tampa Bay should take a run at landing Mayfield, giving them a strong option for when Brady does eventually decide to step away.

    The Bucs would be a very interesting situation for Mayfield to land in, although there are certainly a few hurdles. First, Mayfield is being paid just under $19 million guaranteed next season, which is a hefty sum for a Super Bowl contending squad. Second, Mayfield has just one-year left on his deal, so if he’s the plan for the future, the team would have to get some kind of assurance that he’d stick around.

    While Mayfield is running out of options, there’s no doubt he’d like the opportunity to play and prove himself, giving him the ability to earn an extension in the offseason. That being said, the chance to be in the same quarterback room as Brady for a season would be an interesting prospect for Mayfield.


    Mayfield’s Options Shrinking by the Day

    Mayfield wanted to go to Indianapolis but the Colts filled their quarterback hole with veteran Matt Ryan, acquiring the former MVP via trade. Mayfield had expressed a desire to land in Indy but the feeling wasn’t mutual, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, who reported that the Colts “never engaged heavily with the Browns” in a trade.

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    The Saints and Falcons have also added quarterbacks in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, respectively. And the Panthers — a team once rumored to be looking at Mayfield — are not interested, per David Newton of ESPN.

    That leaves really only one clear destination in Seattle, although Mayfield could have to compete for a starting job with Drew Lock. At this point, if the Browns want to make a deal they might have to eat a chunk of Mayfield’s salary or include a draft pick.

    “The Browns had a conversation with a team about Baker [Mayfield] and the team asked for a pick from the Browns to take Mayfield’s contract,” Adam Schefter reported this week. “If anyone thinks they’re going to get a high premium pick for Baker Mayfield they’re mistaken.”


    Baker Mayfield Has Shown Upside at Times

    Orlovsky has been a Mayfield supporter through the years and believes the former Heisman winner belongs as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

    “First of all, Baker Mayfield resurrected the worst franchise in sports in America. OK? This franchise was terrible before Baker Mayfield got there,” Orlovsky said last offseason. “They were 0-16 the year before he got there. His first year, they go 7-8-1. He was 6-7 as a starter as a rookie in that first season while breaking the rookie touchdown passing record held by Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning — two pretty good players. Also, playing a meaningful game in December that year. You can’t replace that.”

    As Orlovsky points out, Mayfield has had his moments over the first four years of his career. And it might be unfair to judge him based on last season, considering he played through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

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    Mayfield passed for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season as the Browns stumbled to 8-9, missing the postseason. He had a tough showing down the stretch, tossing seven of those interceptions in the final three games with the Browns hunting a playoff spot. He also clashed with his head coach at times and the Odell Beckham Jr. situation did not help his reputation around the league.

    While the trade market isn’t currently there for Mayfield, it’s not because he’s a terrible quarterback. It’s more because the Browns have almost no leverage in a trade situation and other teams around the league know that. Cleveland could choose to hang on to Mayfield for the time being and wait to see if an injury changes the quarterback market.


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