Baker Mayfield Rumors: Panthers Asked QB to Take over $7M Pay Cut Before Browns Trade

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2022

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 25: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Browns 24-22. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Prior to acquiring quarterback Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns this week, the Carolina Panthers reportedly wanted Mayfield to take a pay cut of over $7 million.

According to Joseph Person and Zac Jackson of The Athletic, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer and Browns GM Andrew Berry agreed to the framework of a deal involving Mayfield, but the one hang-up was how much of a pay cut he would accept, which led to the involvement of Mayfield's agent, Tom Mills.

Mayfield ended up taking a $3.5 million pay cut, and the deal was consummated as the Panthers sent the Browns a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick that could become a fourth-rounder if Mayfield plays at least 70 percent of Carolina's offensive snaps in 2022.

Per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the pay cut means the Panthers will pay Mayfield about $5 million this season, while the Browns will pay him $10.5 million.

It became clear in March that Mayfield's days in Cleveland were numbered when the Browns acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.

The rest of the NFL knew the Browns had to either trade or release Mayfield, which is likely why the process dragged out until the Panthers finally agreed to make a deal.

Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft after winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma. While he hasn't lived up to that draft status, he has done some good things in the league.

He went 11-5 as a starter in 2020 and led the Browns to their first playoff berth since 2002. He also led them to a win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Mayfield had solid numbers during the regular season that year as well, completing 62.8 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions.

Things fell off significantly for Mayfield and the Browns as a whole last season as the team went just 8-9 and missed the playoffs.

Mayfield went 6-8 in his 14 starts and completed 60.5 percent of his attempts for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

He suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder early in the season and never seemed to be the same afterward. He underwent surgery this offseason, so the hope is that he will be 100 percent healthy for the 2022 season.

Acquiring Mayfield was a worthwhile risk for Carolina, considering Sam Darnold was the incumbent starter after struggling last season.

Darnold, who went third overall in the 2018 NFL draft to the New York Jets, is just 17-32 as a starter with 54 touchdown passes and 52 interceptions in his four-year career.

Mayfield represents an upgrade and will arguably have better weapons than he ever did in Cleveland with running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson.

If Mayfield bounces back in 2022, he could be a huge steal for the Panthers in terms of the salary they're paying him and what they had to give up to acquire him.