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Baker Mayfield Trade Rumors: Saints, Panthers Tabbed as Suitors for Browns QB

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMarch 21, 2022

AP Photo/David Richard

The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers might be leading the field in the race to acquire Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on March 17 the Indianapolis Colts were among the teams on which Mayfield would want to land. However, the Colts have set their sights on Atlanta Falcons star Matt Ryan, per Rapoport:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From NFL Now: The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Colts</a> have emerged as the likely landing spot for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Falcons?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Falcons</a> QB Matt Ryan, and the two sides are in talks. If Ryan is traded, it’ll almost certainly be Indy. But nothing is done as of now. <a href="https://t.co/TJqqG25Z2x">pic.twitter.com/TJqqG25Z2x</a>

The Browns' acquisition of Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans has all but sealed Mayfield's exit from Cleveland. Purely out of necessity, New Orleans and Carolina both make sense as landing spots. 

For the Saints, it's abundantly clear by now that Taysom Hill isn't a viable starting solution at quarterback. In addition, Ian Book was a disaster in his only start as a rookie, going 12-of-20 for 135 yards and two interceptions while getting sacked eight times.

The Sam Darnold experiment hasn't worked out for the Panthers. Following an encouraging start—he threw for 1,189 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in the first four weeks—the 24-year-old looked like the same quarterback he was with the New York Jets.

With Mayfield, the hope is that simply getting healthy will work wonders for him in 2022. He battled a lingering shoulder injury throughout the 2021 season, which adversely impacted his performance.

The 2018 No. 1 overall pick finished with 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2020, which aren't eye-popping numbers but were good enough to help get the Browns to the playoffs.

The risk with Mayfield is that Cleveland's pursuit of Watson could speak to how deep-seated the Browns' concerns were with their supposed franchise quarterback. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the team wanted to get "an adult" at QB, a comment that indicated the issues went beyond Mayfield's performance.

Mayfield is only under contract for one more season before he's eligible for free agency. The quarterback market has quickly dried up, and the incoming class of rookies isn't too promising.

For the teams that still need to address the position, a short-term bet on the 26-year-old would be worth it despite all of the question marks.

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