The Cleveland Browns don’t know for sure just yet whether or not they will ever see Deshaun Watson take the field for them this season as they await word on the ruling from Sue Robinson, the NFL-NFLPA joint disciplinary officer, and whether and how long he will be suspended.
And yet they don’t appear to have any plans to fall back upon the man who has been their primary starter—and their former first-overall draft pick—for the past four seasons. The man to whom they are indebted the better part of $20 million guaranteed under his fifth-year option, unless they can trade him.
They would be Baker Mayfield, who helped lead the Browns to their first winning record in 2020 since 2007; their first postseason appearance since 2002; and their first postseason victory since 1994. They don’t seem to want him, and Mayfield certainly doesn’t want to be there. But does anybody want him?
Ian Rapoport reported last night that the Seattle Seahawks, the team that has been primarily connected with trade rumors for Mayfield, have never been particularly close to a trade.
“I don’t know what’s gonna happen at the end of all this…but they have never really been that interested in Baker“, he said on the Pat McAfee Show. “What they have wanted is a Drew Lock v. Geno Smith battle”.
He added the obvious, which is that it does certainly seem like Mayfield doesn’t want to be in Cleveland anymore, and he did acknowledge that the Carolina Panthers have had interest in him. He said that if he is going to be traded, it will probably happen before training camps open, which is about three weeks away.
Still, Rapoport’s report was quickly disputed by Josina Anderson. She responded to the report by calling it “inaccurate”, and listing reasons she believes this narrative is being promoted now. “1.) In case the Seahawks don’t get Baker Mayfield”, she wrote; “2.) Because if #1 happens, it helps to manage the path ahead with their current situation. 3.) They still trying to figure out how I know/heard!”.
So there you have it; either the Seahawks are or are not seriously interested in trading for Baker Mayfield, the team who just traded their franchise quarterback who delivered them their only Super Bowl title, and who is set to watch two backup-quality former second-round draft picks duke it out for the right to see who gets replaced as early as next season after clearly showing that they are not a starter.
With Mayfield commanding a salary of nearly $19 million under his fifth-year option this year, the question has always been how much the Browns would have to eat in order to make a trade possible. Cleveland doesn’t have a ton of leverage given how every team has already made other arrangements at quarterback—and the fact that Mayfield clearly has no intentions of playing for the Browns again.