Baker Mayfield Rumors: NFL GM Advises Browns Not to Trade QB Yet; Market Isn't Strong

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 1, 2022

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 09: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during warm-ups before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

After the 2022 NFL draft came and went without a trade in place, the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield are set to play the waiting game.

One general manager told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler the Browns should wait into the summer before making a move in case there is an injury that could make a suitor desperate. 

"This one is going to slow down now," Fowler said Sunday on SportsCenter. "This is officially a stand off between Baker Mayfield and the Browns and other teams and who's going to pay that $19 million in salary that he has guaranteed. So there's no new movement on this. I talked to an NFL GM who said the Browns should hold onto him because you never know what's going to happen with an injury around the league or somebody's quarterback situation changes because right now there's just not a strong enough market. Seattle and some other teams will wait this out if he's actually released, then they could get involved." 

The Browns have been shopping Mayfield to little success since acquiring Deshaun Watson in March. While teams would undoubtedly be interested in the 2018 No. 1 overall pick if he were available on the free-agent market, Mayfield comes with an $18.9 million price tag for next season and the expectation of draft-pick compensation from Cleveland.

Given Mayfield's struggles last season and the Browns' lack of leverage, the market has been understandably tepid.

The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers have been the two teams most often linked to Mayfield throughout the process. Carolina seemingly took itself out of the running Friday by drafting Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral in the third round. The Panthers will likely go into next season with Corral and Sam Darnold competing for the starting job.

The Seahawks did not address their quarterback issues via the draft. Coach Pete Carroll said the team is satisfied with its current group of signal-callers: Geno Smith, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason.

"We’re really happy with the guys we’ve got, to see them battle, and we’ll see what happens," Carroll told reporters Saturday. 

The waiting game may be the only thing left for the Browns if they hope to avoid eating Mayfield's entire salary by releasing him. His fifth-year option is fully guaranteed, so Cleveland is incentivized to hold onto him as long as possible. In a worst-case scenario, Mayfield could be the league's most expensive backup—a move that could pay dividends with Watson potentially facing a suspension under the NFL's personal conduct policy.