The marriage between the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield could very well be heading for a divorce, either this offseason or next.
Baker Mayfield has not been very good this season and that’s a major reason the Cleveland Browns have struggled and failed to make the playoffs. The team isn’t even going to finish with a winning record. The 2020 playoff run and playoff win seem like forever ago, but it has only been a year.
There’s going to be a lot of discussion in regards to Mayfield’s future in Cleveland over the next several weeks until we get a definitive answer, so buckle up, Browns fans.
And before we get into the nitty-gritty of this article, I want to be perfectly clear when I say I am not saying this is what I want to happen, just a possibility as to what could transpire over the next several months. Hell, we still have one more week of football to get through, so anything is possible.
Through 17 weeks and 14 games with Mayfield under center, he has not had a good year. He has passed for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. General manager Andrew Berry will look at the complete 59-game career of Mayfield before deciding what to do with him, but the numbers aren’t all that great. Since entering the league after being drafted with the first overall pick back in 2018, Mayfield has thrown for 14,125 yards, 92, and 56 interceptions. The 56 interceptions are the most in the NFL in that time period. Yikes.
This season he has battled through a myriad of injuries, including a torn labrum and fractured humerus bone in his left non-throwing shoulder. Kevin Stefanski announced on Tuesday that Mayfield will not play Sunday and will have surgery as soon as possible. Many feel he should have been shut down much sooner, but the team decided to let him play through the laundry list on injuries.
Clearly, Berry will have to factor that into any and all evaluations of Mayfield when deciding where to go next. If there is a trade that’s made, it will be a gamble that Mayfield’s shoulder will heal and he will get back to 2020 form. So that means that his value could be down, which could push a deal back to around the time he is scheduled to be able to return.
Mayfield had his fifth-year option picked up by Cleveland last offseason, but that doesn’t mean a thing in terms of what could lie ahead for the two parties. The Browns will not cut Mayfield due to owing him nearly $19 million, so the most likely scenario if the two should divorce, is via trade.
Now, there are a handful of teams that could look to acquire Mayfield and pay the $19 million with the hopes that Mayfield is like Drew Brees in the sense that he had an injured shoulder, went to a new team, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Originally, I had the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers on this list, but they only get honorably mentioned. The Texans are out, in my eyes, due to what is going to happen with Deshaun Watson, unless, a trade for the two could be cooked up, which is highly unlikely due to Watson being able to pick his destination. Davis Mills showed promise this season so Houston might roll with him.
As for the Panthers, they traded for Sam Darnold last offseason, who also has a fifth-year option worth nearly $19 million, so that isn’t likely unless they just do a swap, which would be horrendous for Cleveland. Speaking of Darnold, in the trade that sent him to Carolina, the Panthers received a 2021 sixth-round pick (2021), as well as a second and fourth-round pick in 2022. Can the Browns get equal or better value for Mayfield?
So, without further ado, let’s see which teams could potentially trade for Baker Mayfield this offseason.