Baker Mayfield isn’t going to play for the Cleveland Browns this season but will he have to take a pay cut in order to play for another team in 2022?
Turn on any news station as of late and you might hear this same theory crop up — perhaps the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield will work together again in 2022.
The thought is with the league potentially suspending Deshaun Watson for a significant time, the Browns could use Baker Mayfield as the starter, and Mayfield could use the starts to show he can still perform at a high level.
But let’s get real. Baker Mayfield and the Browns are done. They were done the minute the head coach and GM flew to Houston to court Deshaun Watson — and they knew it. They knew by making their pursuit of an upgrade that obvious they were left with no choice but to make a change.
Having said that, it seemed as though Mayfield would have already been gone. But that’s not the case as we’re approaching mandatory minicamps with him still on the payroll. And his pay is a major reason why.
Mayfield is due nearly $19 million and teams — such as the Carolina Panthers — who have shown interest have balked at the price. Cleveland has also balked at eating too much of the deal, and they’re not releasing him anytime soon.
Could Baker Mayfield take a pay cut to get out?
But is there another option?
As pointed out by Jonathan Jones of CBS, Mayfield might need to take a pay cut in order to leave. He points out that if anyone was going to make a move at his current pay, they would have. So he suggests Mayfield re-work his deal and even pointed out his potential landing spot has some experience in this arena.
Last season, the Panthers saw a quarterback take a pay cut to leave, re-working Teddy Bridgewater’s deal so he could head to Denver.
"“Teddy Bridgewater originally signed a three-year, $63 million deal in 2020. The Panthers paid out $24 million in Year 1 but got out before the 2021 NFL Draft. Bridgewater agreed to a significant pay cut in order to facilitate a trade out of Carolina.”"
Mayfield, of course, has every right to laugh off such a suggestion. His contract allows him the right to collect his $18.9 million regardless of whether he plays or not.
But he’s a competitor. He wants to play, and he wants to prove he’s not the problem.
In order to do that, he might have to swallow his pride some and make a drastic move. In the end, it could end up paying off in a big way, especially if he plays well for a new team in 2022 and hits free agency in 2023 on a higher note than he hit this offseason.