A potential trade of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield reportedly isn't expected to impact the first round of the 2022 NFL draft next week.
According to ESPN's Matt Miller, a source close to Mayfield believes a team that doesn't land a starting quarterback in the first round of the draft could target Mayfield in a post-draft trade.
A Mayfield trade during the draft is possible as well, although it would likely involve Day 2 or Day 3 picks getting sent to Cleveland rather than a first-round selection.
It is only a matter of time before the Browns trade or release Mayfield since they acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans last month to be Mayfield's replacement.
Cleveland also signed veteran signal-caller Jacoby Brissett in free agency to be Watson's backup, meaning there is no longer room for Mayfield on the roster in any role.
Part of the hold-up when it comes to trading Mayfield could be that most teams have already addressed their quarterback needs via trade or free agency. Those who haven't may be waiting to see how the draft plays out.
During an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show last week, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport gave his take on potential landing spots for Mayfield:
Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow
"To me the Carolina Panthers seem to be the most likely spot for Baker Mayfield.. the Buccaneers would make some sense to me as well" ~<a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RapSheet</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PMSLive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PMSLive</a> <a href="https://t.co/GaHXjKK73x">pic.twitter.com/GaHXjKK73x</a>
Rapoport named the Carolina Panthers as the "most likely" team to land Mayfield and noted that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers "make some sense" as well.
The Panthers would perhaps offer Mayfield the best chance to start in 2022 of any team since he would be in competition with Sam Darnold, who has accomplished far less than Mayfield during their respective careers.
Carolina owns the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, though, meaning it could target a young quarterback such as Liberty's Malik Willis or Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett.
Mayfield would unquestionably be a backup in Tampa, but being the understudy to Tom Brady could be a great spot for him.
There is a good chance that Mayfield would beat out Blaine Gabbert to be Brady's primary backup, and he would provide a solid insurance policy should Brady get injured.
Also, since Brady isn't guaranteed to be with the Bucs beyond 2022, Mayfield could take over as the starter in 2023 if he acclimates well.
Mayfield, the Browns and interested teams are playing the waiting game at this point, but it may not be much longer before the wheels are set in motion for a trade since the quarterback landscape will become much closer after the first round of the draft on Thursday.