Baker Mayfield: Browns still asking for 2nd-rounder for former Heisman winner

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield chats with tight end Harrison Bryant before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Cleveland.baker bryant
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield chats with tight end Harrison Bryant before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Cleveland.baker bryant /

A year ago Baker Mayfield would have had a trade value that exceeded a first-round draft pick.

The 2017 Heisman trophy winner had just led the lowly Cleveland Browns to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2002. Then he proceeded to post a 91 QBR in an outright flex, as he carved up their /AFC North Division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers, in what would be the Browns’ first road playoff victory since 1969.

Mayfield had played at a top-10 NFL QB level, and perhaps higher down the stretch. Fast forward one injury-ridden year, and the Browns have traded for Deshaun Watson and now are trying to deal Mayfield.

We have been led to believe that there were no takers for the 27-year-old signal caller, and that nobody wanted his “baggage”. You see Baker Mayfield was suddenly not considered a good QB to some, and with his reputation of being outspoken was unable to latch on elsewhere. We have since, however, found this out not to be the case. As it turns out, there are several teams who have inquired about Mayfield.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plains Dealer described the Carolina Panthers as the team with an inside track of “several suitors” for Mayfield. On ESPN’s “Get Up! ” programNFL insider Jeff Darlington dropped a nugget.

"“If for some reason the Browns, and I don’t expect this to happen, were to cut Baker Mayfield, he signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers the very next day. Again teams do still covet Baker Mayfield. They just don’t think they need to give up as much as what the Cleveland Browns are asking for right now.”"

This left a question to be answered! What compensation are the Browns asking in return for Baker Mayfield?

Albert Breer and others reported last month the Browns were asking for a 1st-round draft pick. This led to the Colts being eliminated as a suitor. Then it was reported they were asking for a Day 2 pick. The Browns cannot possibly be foolish enough to continue to try and negotiate in bad faith with the draft coming up, and an $18.8 million cap hit looming for a team that already has three ew QBs.

Well, I asked Mike Farrell, the former recruiting director of Rivals. He is now a consultant who is working on his own website.  He told me Browns are still asking for a 2nd-round draft pick for Mayfield. Though, he noted, “They are unlikely to get that.”

We have been led to believe it is “Baker’s personality” or “Baker is a problem in the locker room” or that “He just isn’t that good”. None of those things are remotely the truth. As it turns out, the Browns have not been negotiating in good faith.

A Browns player told me last month the team thought highly of Mayfield. Denzel Ward talked about how Mayfield reached out to congratulate him on his extension. Mayfield never had locker room problems before, or struggled to get along with teammates. Those things did not start suddenly happening now that the Browns decided to trade for Watson.

One week from the NFL draft and the Browns are still playing games, as it is well documented they also are unwilling to eat any portion of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary. The Browns have absolutely botched this situation.

The whole league knows they are not in the market of keeping Mayfield. The old “send him home like Keyshawn Johnson” route is not allowed according to the Collective Bargaining  Agreement. The  Browns have signed two additional QBs in Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs. They have taken subtle shots at Mayfield’s character.

Mayfield is coming off of shoulder surgery, and only has one year left on his current deal. The Browns seem unable to comprehend that they have no leverage. Are they keeping Mayfield as long as possible to spite him, or to perhaps keep his news from shielding their organization from Watson backlash? The Browns need to move on, and allow Baker Mayfield to do so as well.