Baker Mayfield helped the Cleveland Browns rise from the NFL abyss, but the franchise’s decision-makers became convinced he couldn’t play the quarterback in the Promised Land.
On Wednesday, the Browns broke up with long-awaited Mayfield, and they traded him in with the Carolina Panthers.
Brown will receive a conditional fifth-round selection in 2024 for Mayfield, who was drafted by former General Manager John Dorsey for his first overall in 2018 following Cleveland by a 1–31 aggregate in the previous two seasons. Brown also agreed to pay about $10.5 million of Mayfield’s $18.885 million deal.
Cleveland will open its next season in Carolina on September 11th.
The franchise’s lack of faith in Mayfield contributed to the Browns’ travel down a controversial path with Deshaun Watson, the former Houston Texans quarterback who was charged through the court system with sexual misconduct by 26 women during massage appointments. Watson has denied any wrongdoing – a position he reiterated on March 25 during his introductory press conference with Brown.
The logical drop points for Mayfield diminished on March 21 when the Indianapolis Colts traded the Atlanta Falcons for Matt Ryan, the Falcons agreed to sign Marcus Mariota and the New Orleans Saints struck a deal to re-sign Jameis Winston.
Then the NFL draft was approved in late April as business talks between the Browns and the Panthers faltered.
Those discussions have been revisited, and now there is a solution — finally.
Mayfield is just the third quarterback in the combined NFL era (since 1967) to become the first pick overall and the last four seasons or less with their first team, according to ESPN stats and information. The others are JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders, 2007-2009) and Jeff George (Indianapolis Colts, 1990-93).