The Cleveland Browns have not shown any indication that they’re going to release Baker Mayfield but NFL executives still believe it’s going to happen
There’s no way the relationship between Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns will ever be repaired. So even if the NFL hands down a long suspension for Deshaun Watson, Mayfield will be playing football elsewhere in 2022.
The question is — will he be traded to another club or if the Browns will outright release him.
As of now, it appears that’s the last thing Cleveland wants to do. But if there are no takers in a trade, they might finally decide it’s time to move on and free up the roster spot.
NFL executives think Baker Mayfield will be released by Cleveland
The huge holdup in any Baker Mayfield trade is the money he’s owed. Mayfield has a fully-guaranteed contract right around $18.9 million and the Browns are trying to get as much of that off their books as they can.
Interested teams, however, don’t want to take that hit. They want Cleveland to share as much of the burden as possible, which is why trade talks broke down with the Carolina Panthers.
Entering the summer months, the Browns are still playing the patient game — hoping someone gets desperate and ups the amount they will pay on the contract. But that might never happen as Dan Graziano says many NFL executives expect Baker Mayfield to be released before the season begins.
Speaking on Mayfield and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Graziano says Cleveland is more likely than the Niners to stay the course, but that feeling is not shared around the NFL.
"“The majority of the people to whom I spoke for this story believe both players will likely end up being released. A couple of people thought Garoppolo might still draw trade interest, provided an acquiring team could work out something to knock down the salary or spread it out over a couple of years.” — Graziano"
For Cleveland, this would be the worst-case scenario. If Mayfield is released, they not only get nothing in return but they would also get nearly no relief in terms of his contract.
Any team that signs Mayfield could give him the veteran minimum, slightly over $1 million, and the Browns would still owe him whatever is left on his guaranteed portion — roughly $17.9 million.
Of course, if no team ever makes a trade, this might be the only real option — because keeping him on the 53-man roster all season doesn’t seem like the best move.