Baker Mayfield will play in an NFL city in 2022, but won’t be in Cleveland after the Browns acquired former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in one of the biggest trades in NFL history.
Despite the acquisition of Watson as well as backup Jacoby Brissett, the Browns still have Mayfield on their roster with about a month to go before the start of the 2022 NFL Draft. Kevin Stefanski, whose successful collaboration with Mayfield in 2020 helped him win NFL Coach of the Year honors, said that the team hopes to have a resolution with regard to Mayfield’s situation sometime soon.
“I think everyone understands the situation, and we’re hoping that it is resolved soon,” Stefanski said Monday from the league’s annual meetings, via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “It’s a unique situation. We’ve got to see how it plays out. I think of all of us would love an answer yesterday, but that’s not the reality of it.”
The Browns would surely like to trade Mayfield in exchange for draft capital after sending several future draft picks — including first-round picks — to Houston in exchange for Watson. Mayfield’s guaranteed base salary of $18.858 million, however, makes a trade significantly difficult. Teams that would be interested in trading Mayfield will probably wait until he is released before pursuing him.
Also making matters difficult for Cleveland is the fact that several previously quarterback-needy teams addressed their vacancies. That being said, there are still multiple teams — including the Seahawks and Texans — who could still use an upgrade at quarterback heading into next month’s draft. And despite their recent acquisitions of Marcus Mariota and Mitchell Trubisky, the Falcons and Steelers may also be interested in acquiring Mayfield, even though both franchises would probably wait for the Browns to release Mayfield before they would consider signing him.
Whoever ultimately lands Mayfield will get a soon-to-be 27-year-old quarterback who made 61 starts during his four seasons in Cleveland. He went 6-7 as a rookie for a franchise that won one combined game the previous two seasons. In 2020, Mayfield went 11-5 as a starter in the regular season before helping the franchise win its first playoff game in 26 years.
Mayfield played through several injuries last season that largely contributed to his dip in production. Despite his compromised health, the former Heisman Trophy winner still managed to throw for over 3,000 touchdowns and 17 touchdowns while winning 6 of his 14 starts.