Browns Trading Baker Mayfield to Panthers

New Carolina Panthers QB Baker Mayfield
New Carolina Panthers QB Baker Mayfield
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, is being traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Carolina Panthers, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Mayfield is due $18.9 million in salary this year, then is set to enter free agency in 2023. In four years with Cleveland, he ranked between 12th and 25th in both DVOA and DYAR each season. He is the only quarterback in the history of the NuBrowns to win a playoff game. He became superfluous in Ohio after the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, whom we are all waiting to hear whether he will be suspended, and if so, for how long.

UPDATE: This trade means Mayfield will get a chance for revenge right away -- the Panthers host the Browns in Week 1.

Mike Garafolo has more terms on the deal -- Mayfield took a pay cut to make the deal happen (though he could earn that money back in incentives), and the Browns will still be paying the bulk of Mayfield's salary this fall.

Comments

77 comments, Last at 21 Jul 2022, 9:21pm

2 I dont like this for Carolina.

  1. Darnold is uncuttable, along with the failed reworks of Teddy and Cam, I dont think Rhule is a fixer of QBs but...
  2. You just drafted Corral and he maaaaay be able to mold him (and/or...a Davis Cheek) into something. But in reality you wasted multiple picks on Corral (traded up remember!) because Rhule is about to be booted and he is absolutely not going to stop you from drafting another one.
  3. Conditions go up? Scary.
  4. Just listen to your players. Baker isn't Brady. Good job creating more awkwardness. I'm even more sure now they really didn't think to ask him about Darnold either and well...

With that being said, yeah a 5th isn't a lot but still an asset a poor team like the Panthers could use. Good on Cleveland getting a 5th+ for a guy that was clearly not going to be on the team. Seahawks shouldve been the destination though, Corral brings more hope than Seattle's used trio.

Ah the NFL

20 I could see the Niners…

In reply to by LyleNM

I could see the Niners holding on to Garoppolo and not starting him, eating the salary, just to keep him away from the Seahawks.

Still, Garoppolo is better than the current starters for several other teams.  He generally finishes in the top third of QBs in DVOA and DYAR, and has a strong winning record.  In addition to Seattle and Carolina (I think Garoppolo is still a better option than either Darnold or Mayfield), teams with worse starters include the Giants, Steelers, Falcons, Lions, Texans, Dolphins, and Saints, not counting teams whose starters are *probably* worse than Garoppolo but who just invested a lot of draft capital and are still waiting to see if it pans out (Jets, Jags, Bears).

I think there are still probably trade partners out there...

57 OTC does have that game…

OTC does have that game roster bonus but only indicates a 27 million cap hit, so I went to Spotrac and they do have that 37 million cap hit, so I guess either OTC made a mistake or I've been reading their numbers wrong for years.

63 I know it can be confusing…

I know it can be confusing the way the column header reads at OTC, but it's $800k for the season in per game roster bonuses, not $800k for each game. spotrac has the figure at $750k, but the discrepancy is spelled out explicitly in the contract notes as follows:

  • Annual Per Game Active Bonus: $47,058 ($800,000, 15 LTBE in 2022)

But by their own explanation, even spotrac is overreporting, because the 2022 cap charge for this bonus is actually $705k based on his 15 games played in 2021, not $750k.

23 Maybe

In reply to by LyleNM

Risky plan though.

I might just keep him if I can't get anything enticing tbh. 

Or they can just man up and trade him to Seattle. Stop being afraid of inter division trades! If youre scared of what he'll do, despite knowing all his tendencies, then why trade him at all?

Ah, NFL.

27 I agree!  Either you know…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I agree!  Either you know you're letting a lemon go, or if you know he's not a lemon, don't trade him!  

Belichick wasn't afraid to trade Bledsoe in his prime to Buffalo.  After 1 game where it looked like a terrible idea, that worked out pretty well.  

 

31 Perfect example.

If they can get anyone's 1st (Seahawks, Rams, Bills, whoever) like the Pats got for Bledsoe...don't think twice about and send it in. 

A 7th is the best you're getting? Well, ok maybe hang onto him. But if it was Seattle that was offering two 2nds like it was rumored...yeah probably just take that. They're still likely to be bad/miss the playoffs.

I can't think of any inter division trades that went badly actually. Of course because the sample size is so small. 

39 Keep him as a backup at a…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Keep him as a backup at a cost of 27 million? IIRC the Texans sent (or got sent) a 2nd rounder to clear 18 million in the Osweiler trade. This is 10 million more. My point is his salary alone equals very strong draft capital. I doubt someone is crazy enough to pay that kind money and send a high draft pick for an injury-prone QB of suspect talent. In fact, I wouldn't do either of those two things, frankly, never mind both.

 

46 If they aren't willing to trade a known commodity

In division, then they must still think he's good (combined cap hit would still be less than Mahomes and Tannehill). You can always wait for things to settle and maybe an injury makes someone desperate (got people already saying if Watson is suspended they should trade for Jimmy...which lol).

I'm certainly not attaching a Nick Chubb and another pick to Jimmy Osweiler because another (still) bad team did 5 years ago when the cap was lower. Especially when there's no guaranteed money left. There's 0 chance the 49ers give up the highest pick in a trade when the dead is <$2m either way. 

I didn't see your og point (burner exposed?) but Carson Wentz. Twice. I'm not saying I would offer that thought but the rumor was quite unbelievable.

50 I'm certainly not attaching…

I'm certainly not attaching a Nick Chubb and another pick to Jimmy Osweiler because another (still) bad team did 5 years ago when the cap was lower. 

You are misunderstanding the trade. What the grandparent poster was saying was that the 49ers may have to cough up a pick to convince a team to take Jimmy G off their hands.

The Texans sent a 2nd+6th in return for a 4th -- roughly the value of a low second-round pick -- in return for the Browns absorbing Osweiler's cap hit. Cleveland got a low 4th in return for the Panthers acquiring Mayfield and only absorbing $8M of Mayfield's cap hit. (Cleveland basically got a low 4th with only $10M worth of air to show for it.)

Taking on an expensive disaster requires you to receive substantial assets. Taking on a portion of a replacement-level QB's cap will cost you a handful of beans. Now certainly Handsome Jim is a better-looking QB than Brock the Unloved and that may wash away the pick. But he's also a very expensive handsome QB.

If "average starter" is worth 2.5% of the first pick (@ $5-8M), and "mobile disaster" is worth 10% (@18M), what is a good, but low-volume QB at $28M worth? San Francisco may have to pay to get him to leave.

53 I didn't misunderstand

They are 100% not giving higher picks when they can cut him and take the same $1.4m dead and save the same $25.55m (the whole point of trading him would be to get an asset back instead letting go for nothing). 

The Texans attached a 2nd because they still had guaranteed money left on the deal and the Browns didn't care because they were bad and tanking anyway.

The Browns got little here BECAUSE there was guaranteed money remaining (literally all of it)...like Osweiler (they had just signed him a year earlier and guarantees are usually for the first couple years). They still have to pay a little but it's less than if they cut him outright. Which is not the case for Jimmy.

56 Exactly, the Niners will not…

Exactly, the Niners will not have to give a pick because they can simply cut him and be done. But it's also true what you said before, if there's an injury, maybe someone will be desperate enough to send something of value. Still, I think the most likely outcome is he's cut before camp. Technically they could hang on to him until the start of the season and see what happens in preseason, but teams usually don't like to abuse players that way.

60 I'm just confused on why you brought Osweiler up.

Not gonna be Jimmys situation whatsoever. Penalties are the same whether they attach a pick to trade him or just outright cut him. If the cap hit is still too high, no one would offer anything. Which would be fine but it sounds like they've gotten (crazy) offers and are just waiting for something better. 

Yes they very well cut him. IDK the outcome. But teams have also been nicer at this point. The Bengals released Dalton in late April. We're almost in mid July at this point. They might just think Jimmy is still good/better. His production is there but the grades and final outcome aren't. How long do they want to continue to carry in safety or risk it in chance of upside. A 1st sure worth it, a 7th probably not so much. Might as well hang onto him until some dumb, like Carolina, comes callin for whatever reason. Forget doing him favors, especially when you gave him a bag despite little proof. Ok that's harsh but let him pick Buffalo or Seattle (or wherever) if the offers are the same (like 2 2nds). But that's it. Bengals were generous to Dalton (and he was still clearly in demand for a couple more years, they might've been able to flex a 7th out of someone if they waited), but they came to the correct conclusion that Dalton was no longer useful, in the end (oh and look their rookie is fine, good job wasting you rookies time and teams cap space w/Dalton Chicago). 49ers situation is a little trickier. 

4 Complete the set

Josh Rosen must be available for the 2018QB competition that we allwant to see

5 So the Panthers have yet…

So the Panthers have yet another starting QB. The money sunk at the position is kinda tough, but it's not like they have a plethora of options and Mayfield has been successful in the past...

37 More expensive though. If…

More expensive though. If your options are

  1. Hope baker puts it together 
  2. Draft mid to late round qb
  3. Pickup whoever looks the best out of the USFL

They are all pretty long shots, but it's clear which is most expensive.

 

Even if they are tanking it seems like there are easier ways to do it

52 Yeah although it took him…

Yeah although it took him till his third year in the league to be...average. Clearly, the Browns didn't think much of his chances or they wouldn't have bet the farm & payroll on a QB who could legal him self out of the league in a few years. Considering the price and payroll split the panthers don't think much of is chances either.  It's not that there arn't players who were bad for a few years and then put it together, but that's a pretty short list. 

67 Curious career for Baker so…

Curious career for Baker so far. He was genuinely good as a rookie in 2018 (12th in DYAR in only 14 starts). Then replacement level in 2019. Then solid in 2020 (albeit at low volume for a good team). Then back to replacement level in 2021 (albeit whilst clearly playing hurt). Add into that the allure of being the former #1 pick.

It seems obvious by now that his ceiling is as a "good" QB, and his floor around "replacement level". Hard to know where his expected performance level lies, but there is definite upside there for an obviously needy team. I suppose the biggest headache for the Panthers will be if Baker does flash next year, given he won't then be under contract. That's the main issue with this trade from my POV; it doesn't provide any potential value for the Panthers beyond this season. 

 

13 Would Mayfield replacing…

Would Mayfield replacing Darnold move the needle that much on the Panthers' writeup?  I mean, I realize Mayfield has shown flashes of competence as opposed to HEY DARNOLD, but, uh, you know.

25 You should've written it…

You should've written it like a Mad Lib.

"Former first round pick [Insert QB Name Here] heads up the Panthers in an attempt at redemption. [Insert QB Name Here] has shown flashes of competence, but generally struggled and didn't really make anyone think he's a long-term starter by the end of his time with [Insert QB's Former Team Here]. So why did the Panthers trade for him in [Insert Year Here]? It's hard to tell, but it'd really be a comeback story if [Insert QB Name Here] manages to lead the Panthers to the playoffs, and a damning indictment of [Insert QB's Former Team Here] and the resources they expended to replace him."

12 When he arrived, I thought…

When he arrived, I thought he was an overrated prick. But he leaves underrated and gutsy, with a justified chip on his shoulder. I hope he finds success with an organization that's not a complete clown show. It is..... unlikely, let's go with unlikely, that Carolina will prove to be this organization.

I do wonder if this means Cleveland got word that Deshaun Watson's suspension will be significantly less than the full season... Although, if Mayfield is willing to leave $3.5 million on the table just to get the hell out of town, maybe the situation was simply untenable regardless of the availability of the starter. In which case, I guess it's the Jacoby Brissett show. And if he gets hurt, uh... beg Fitzpatrick to unretire, I guess?

41 I think that beyond that,…

I think that beyond that, the whole "having no trade leverage" and "last contract year with $19M fully guaranteed" things made him look worse the last few months than he actually was.  Unlike with Darnold (whom the Panthers had little choice on either, really, given they had just gotten him,) very few people disputed picking up the 5th year option after the 2020 season.

It was basically unprecedented (i.e. see Goff/Stafford & Wilson/Lock) for HOU to not take him back in the first place, as was the case in every other QB megadeal, and put the Browns behind the 8-ball.

I get a kick out of people saying "he should've sat through the injury" when doing so would've arguably put him in a worse situation (not playing at all is in a way worse than playing poorly through an injury.)

68 Houston are in full blown…

Houston are in full blown rebuild mode, and Davis Mills flashed enough as a rookie to make it perfectly sensible to prefer him to Baker at his current cost. 

I do think Baker could well make a good reclamation signing for someone - after this season, when he can potentially be signed for multiple years at well below the market rate for average QBs. The problem for the Panthers now (and for the Browns before their moves) is that Baker provides little value now, and none beyond this year, unless he suddenly explodes.

26 The Browns should actually…

The Browns should actually want either a full season or nothing. When I heard the NFL was pushing for a full season I was like "seriously? that's a massive boon to the Browns." If it's a full season, Watson's contract pushes until next year, they get massive cap relief and he's under contract an additional year. Then you just go with Brissett and deal with it. Who cares.

An 8-game suspension basically murders their chances in '22 and the cap implications are already complicated in '23. Watson's first contract year is their best shot, so 'nothing or a full year' is really the best option.

28 If the NFL did suspend him,…

If the NFL did suspend him, say, 8 games, could the Browns then suspend him for the other 8 for "conduct detrimental to the team" and push the contract situation out another year and save the cap space?  Or does it not work like that?

47 Maybe, but the NFLPA would…

Maybe, but the NFLPA would never allow it: it's clearly attempting to hold onto a player beyond their contract. Watson even might be okay with it (doubtful) but the players association would certainly be like "you can't let this happen."

29 4 games wouldn't be the end…

4 games wouldn't be the end of the world.  Brissett is a competent, if uninspiring fill-in starter.  I haven't looked at their schedule, but I imagine you could go 2-2 in 4 games with Brissett, maybe even 3-1 if you play a low-scoring, high-variance gameplan (see... any gameplan the Patriots ran with Cam Newton in 2020) and get a lucky break or two, and then you're in decent shape with Watson for the other 12 games.  

32 The issue with a 4-game…

The issue with a 4-game suspension is the schedule - it's true it's the easiest 4-game stretch, but that does mean if they end up blowing a game to the Panthers or Steelers because they're missing Watson, they're in huge trouble. 

42 Well, there is the whole …

"because they were missing Watson"

 

Well, I suppose; 0-16-1 in the last 17 openers, which is at the far outside limits of "statistically improbable" even given their history, makes it hard to believe that their opener win probability changed much either with Brisset vs. Watson on their side, or Baker/Darnold/Corral on the other side. :)

(Granted, they've drawn a disproportionate number of either difficult division games, or opponents like @Arrowhead last opener, that also makes that stat noisy.)

44 If they hadn't torched…

If they hadn't torched bridges with Mayfield, Mayfield on the Browns and Darnold on the Panthers vs Brissett on the Browns/Mayfield on the Panthers is a huge difference in my opinion.

Not a fan of the trade for the Panthers because it's got no upside: it's still only a 1-year contract. I hated the Darnold trade since I thought he had absolutely no potential but at least it was multi-year.

But regardless of my feelings on the strategy of the trade, Mayfield's totally an upgrade on Darnold.

48 I was mostly joking, but…

I was mostly joking, but commenting on how no matter what the Browns try to do, they just can't seem to win the opener, i.e. the odds were close to 0 before all of this, so they still are. :)

 

Carolina is inheriting the potential to get a compensatory pick, if the numbers end up working that way and they let him walk...

 

Regarding "burning the bridge" there really wasn't much they could do when Caserio wasn't interested in taking back Baker as part of the trade, as the Lions did with Goff and the Seahawks did with Lock.

51 You can spin it for the…

You can spin it for the Panthers, basicly "he was ok in 2020 and was hurt in 2021 and has the draft pedigree". It's not a totally crazy narrative but pretty optimistic.  Still, average is really the best case it seems. 

I'm guessing the Browns felt they had to get rid of him given they way the salary split shook out, even with a possible suspension. 

58 Yeah but only getting one…

Yeah but only getting one year is trash. No upside. If Mayfield has a great year they're stuck with the "pay him big bucks on one year" problem. At least with Darnold if he was great last year, this year becomes "was it a fluke" and you extend him in season.

If he's not willing to work with a new team now, good chance he'll be a difficult negotiation next year, too.

40 "And if he gets hurt, uh…

"And if he gets hurt, uh... beg Fitzpatrick to unretire, I guess?"

 

Right now, they are counting on the aerospace engineer, R. Joshua Dobbs, in that case.

I would be open to watching for camp cuts for Flacco, Minshew, etc. or even taking Keenum back.  Some have suggested Cam Newton, which would make Week 1 even more fun.

64 Very good point!

JoelBarlow, you've hit upon something I've been thinking about recently:  the inefficiency of the quarterback market.

One thing I like to do before each year is assess who has joined and left the set of 32 starting quarterbacks from the start of the prior year.  Here's what I have for 2022 vs. 2021:

IN:

Mariota

Lock or Geno Smith (I consider Lock to have lost his starting job by the end of last year)

Trubisky or Pickett (Rudolph? C'mon!)

Lance

Brissett (that's what I think will shake out)

OUT:

Jimmy G (absent a cut or trade, he may knock out Lock or Geno)

Mayfield or Darnold (the loser of the Panthers competition)

Roethlisberger

Heinecke

Bridgewater

 

Would you rather have the INs or the OUTs?  Other than Big Ben no longer being functional, the OUTs (and even then, I'm sure the Steelers would have started Ben this year if they could have).  QB talent is not distributed such that the 32 best are the 32 starters.

69 Erm, meh. Of the INs, only…

Erm, meh. Of the INs, only Lance, and maybe Pickett, have any real upside. 

Of course none of the OUTs do either, but in the case of Jimmy G and Bridgewater there's a pretty high floor. Even Heinecke was decent last season, far from the worst QB in the world. Much better than Lock/Geno Smith.

71 Teddy has ranked #9, #19 and…

Teddy has ranked #9, #19 and #10 in passing DVOA the past 3 years whilst bouncing between teams, so I'd say the floor was pretty high there. 

If it was a choice between him and, say, Pickett just for this season, and I had a roster capable of competing, there's no question I'd take Teddy. (We aren't talking about an elite prospect in Pickett. Of course the equation would change if it was, like, Trevor Lawrence). 

For a team like Pittsburgh it probably makes sense to take a more long term, specualtive view. So just a question of team preference. Hence meh. 

 

72 And I would say

Those top 10 rankings are with "a roster capable of competing" so unless you actually think he's more 5-0 with NO than 7-7 with DEN...that's not me. I'll spend my capital elsewhere with a higher ceiling then thinking this is the team were you can plug in mediocre 

75 Wow Bridgewater has defenders

Those top 10 rankings are with "a roster capable of competing" so unless you actually think he's more 5-0 with NO than 7-7 with DEN...

Yall think he could've did what Stafford did with the Rams stacked roster? Because there's no way yall actually think that's Teddy's baseline and could slap him in and have similar results. 

76 Wow Bridgewater has…

Wow Bridgewater has defenders

We are legion!

Yall think he could've did what Stafford did with the Rams stacked roster?

.....yes? Denver's passing offense was only 3 %-points lower than the Rams' last year by DVOA, with arguably a worse non-QB offensive personnel group and inarguably a worse coach. Assuming good health - the big assumption with him, of course - yes I absolutely believe the Rams' offense would've been similarly successful if not better with Bridgewater under center.

He's been reliably above average whenever he's been able to take the field; even that +2% DVOA in Carolina is like Peyton Damn Manning compared to what everyone else has done at QB there under Ruhle. If it weren't for his frequent injuries he'd be squarely in the Stafford-Cousins tier of QBs, I am confident. He does have those issues, obviously, which is why it's understandable that no one wants to commit to him as The Guy - but for any given year he is absolutely good enough to win with. He'd be ideal for a team that's otherwise ready to win now, ideally with a great offensive line, that faces an extended absence of their ostensible long-term starter.

77 ".....yes? "

Oh my goodness, that's a divide. "Only 3" wow that's...insane. Lol, like, are we gonna ignore that both were literally traded last year and the compensation was maaaaaaaaaaaaaasively different? Heck, adding the other time he was traded too and it still doesn't come close. Like you think the Rams were THAT dumb and were better off (or somehow equal despite the compensation being less) trading for Bridgewater than Stafford? WOW, that's contrarian. I'm 100% certain not a single NFL team would agree, especially now. 

I'm faaaaar from a Stafford truther but if there's anything we can learn from last year is that QB playstyle traits matters and checkdown Teddy isn't throwing rockets like Stafford and isn't as accurate as Burrow. If Stafford could win with that team AND Teddy could...at this point it might be better to ask who COULDN'T and WHY NOT? 

Every year they've played together Stafford has been better in DVOA (and DYAR). I don't know what you think could explain that away. 

66 Thinking on it more:

If they wanted a Baker they could've (and should've!) just drafted Sam Howell instead of, now, second guessing Matt Corral! Lol.

Ah, inept franchises. Suffice to say I dont think how the org has handled the QB position since Rhule got there (not saying it was all Matt himself) was good process. 

This is a good article (outside the first sentence :p)