It is a matter of when, not if, Baker Mayfield will be a member of a new franchise in the NFL. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns went from franchise quarterback to an uncertain future rather quickly this offseason.
There were some rumors that the Browns could move on from Mayfield this offseason, as he enters his fifth in the league. Some of the rumors bothered Mayfield, who requested a trade and was told it would not be honored. But, those rumors did end up coming to fruition when they pulled off a trade to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.
With Watson in the fold, there is no reason to keep Mayfield on the roster. He won’t even be the backup quarterback for the team this season as they signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency to fill that role as well.
Had this been decided earlier in the offseason, there likely would have been a more robust market for Mayfield. But, by the time the Watson deal was finished, a majority of the teams that entered the offseason with needs under center had already filled them.
Mayfield recently discussed the situation that he is going through. While he hasn’t ever gone through something like this before, he has a good mindset about it and is focusing on the things that he can control.
“I haven’t been in this specific situation before, but it’s familiar territory when it comes to mindset and getting back to the basics and realizing what I need to do,” Mayfield said this weekend at OU’s spring game, via Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press. “And right now, I can control getting healthy, working and giving everything I have to wherever my next home is.”
His new home could become clearer during the 2022 NFL Draft. Depending on how things shake out in the first round, the Carolina Panthers seem like a pristine landing spot for Baker Mayfield. The Seattle Seahawks could also be in play, but all reports indicate that they like Drew Lock, who was acquired in the Russell Wilson deal with the Denver Broncos and want to give him a shot.
If a trade is not found during the draft, the Browns could decide to release Mayfield and just move on. In that instance, the prospective pool of teams would grow as more teams would be willing to bring him in on a cheaper deal as a free agent than trade for him and his nearly $19 million cap hit for 2022.