Baker Mayfield officially remains on the Cleveland Browns’ roster in a state of professional limbo. Excused from a mandatory minicamp as he continues to rehab from offseason shoulder surgery in Austin, Texas, the former top overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner awaits a change of scenery.
“It’s quiet, for now,” a league source said.
Baker Mayfield’s current trade standing
The Browns want to trade Mayfield and shed as much of his $18.8 million salary as possible. Mayfield, likewise, wants to be traded and have a fresh start and, potentially, a lucrative new contract with a new NFL employer.
Despite that shared desire for divorce in what has become an extremely awkward relationship, especially after the Browns’ controversial trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson and signing him to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract, the status quo remains in effect.
There hasn’t been any recent significant movement toward the Browns being able to execute a trade for Mayfield and no trade is imminent, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. The Carolina Panthers, after holding trade discussions during the draft regarding Mayfield that didn’t come close to a deal, are not regarded as likely of a destination as another potential trading partner: the Seattle Seahawks.
Should the Browns budge and increase the amount of Mayfield’s salary they’re willing to take on to facilitate a trade, that could accelerate the process.
The time for a sense of urgency to get a deal done, which ideally would have happened before the end of minicamps, has passed. Now, the new goal for the Browns would be to take care of this lingering piece of business before training camp or, failing that, the start of the regular season.
The interest between the Seahawks and Mayfield is mutual, according to league sources.
The Seahawks’ depth chart at quarterback dictates this situation as much as anything. The Seahawks have Drew Lock and Geno Smith currently competing for the starting job.
They have $16.3 million in salary cap space available, so they would need to make some adjustments to absorb Mayfield’s current salary or extend him.
Meanwhile, the Browns are awaiting a lengthy suspension for Watson. There is concern from the NFL Players Association that the league will look to suspend the former Clemson standout for the entire 2022 season, if not indefinitely, according to sources. Should that happen, the Browns are expected to go forward with Jacoby Brissett rather than try to reconcile with Mayfield.
A scenario of trying to mend fences with Mayfield and have him play one more season for them after effectively rejecting him as their guy is considered all but impossible to accomplish.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski addressed Mayfield’s situation this offseason
“I think it’s a unique situation,” Stefanski said. “We need to see how it plays out. All of us would love an answer, yes or no, that’s not the reality. … I think we’ll see. I think everybody understands the situation, and we’re hoping there’s closure to it at some point.”
Mayfield completed 60.5% of his throws and passed for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions last season in 14 games while dealing with a shoulder injury. Additionally, he rushed for 134 yards and one touchdown.
During a conversation on the “Ya Never Know” podcast, Mayfield broke his silence on his tumultuous offseason and unresolved status with the Browns.
“I have no regrets of my time in Cleveland, of what I tried to give to that place,” Mayfield said. “The respect thing is all going to be a personal opinion. I feel disrespected, 100%. I was told one thing, and they completely did another.
“That’s what I’m in the middle of right now. And you know what, I got my taste of it because I’ve had four different head coaches in four years. 2021 was miserable — bunch of different coordinators. I’m just looking for stabilization right now.”
Mayfield said he initially thought the Indianapolis Colts were where he was headed prior to their trade with the Atlanta Falcons to acquire quarterback Matt Ryan. He also referenced the Seahawks as an intriguing possibility.
Previously, Mayfield had said goodbye to Cleveland on social media.
“I don’t know where I’m going next,” Mayfield said. “You don’t get to be in control. … I had great times my rookie year. I’m in a good place right now. I have no clue where I’m going. I have no idea where I’m going, but I’m not nervous. I’m going to control what I can control. That’s what it’s about.”