Baker Saga Finally Ends: Mayfield Traded to Carolina

Baker Saga Finally Ends: Mayfield Traded to Carolina

After alienating their former number one overall pick in their pursuit of DeShaun Watson, the Browns finally traded disgruntled quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers.  The Browns will receive a conditional 2024 draft pick and pay half of Mayfield’s 2022 salary, which comes in at about 10.5 million.  

In his four years as the Browns starter, Mayfield was able to produce the third-most wins in franchise history by a quarterback, trailing former NFL MVP Brian Sipe and Browns legend Bernie Kosar (predating Otto Graham).  

Mayfield also led the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002 in 2021, and their first playoff win since Bill Belicheck was the head coach in Cleveland.  He finishes his Browns career with a touchdown to interception ratio of 92:56 and over 14,000 passing yards.

Despite leading the Browns to the most success since their rebirth in 1999, the front office was disappointed with his subpar performance in 2021 and set out to find a more explosive option under center for 2022.  

After pursuing and ultimately landing DeShaun Watson via trade early in the offseason, Mayfield privately and then publicly demanded a trade from the team and declared that he would never again play for Cleveland.  Many fans wondered if the Browns would try and reconcile their relationship with Mayfield considering that Watson is likely to be suspended for the entire 2022 season, but Mayfield now gets what he’s wanted all along.

The entire situation is truly a head-scratcher, but it certainly falls under a typical Browns situation.  Cleveland got a little taste of success in 2020 and then stumbled in 2021. Hence, their response is to trade their once-beloved starting quarterback because they traded (and overpaid) for a quarterback who is facing sexual assault accusations from over 20 different women.

Watson certainly is a more talented player than Mayfield, but they arguably have had the same level of success in the NFL, and Watson is coming into Cleveland with a number of character concerns and a new contract that is the most expensive in the NFL.  

The Cleveland front office swung for the fences, but they may be facing hard consequences for the duration of the 2022 season.  In fact, the Browns will be facing the Carolina Panthers in week 1 this year.

Whether Mayfield will be able to snag the starting job away from Sam Darnold is a different story, although he probably will.  If he does, look for Mayfield to take on some well-deserved revenge against his former team.

Mayfield is not a perfect quarterback.  He’s also not a perfect teammate.  Many remember how he called out former Cleveland running back Duke Johnson Jr. for demanding a trade due to a lack of playing time.  Others will recall how he rarely would throw to former NFL All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr. when they were teammates for reasons nobody knows. 

 Still, it’s odd for a guy who had to carry a franchise from the absolute bottom (they were 0-16 the year before he arrived) to the playoffs to be treated in such a fashion, especially when we’re unsure of the future with Watson in the NFL.

For now, this Mayfield trade will certainly be at the front of our NFL attention span in the dog days of NFL content.