Baker Mayfield’s remaining contract came into sharp focus this week after his release by the Carolina Panthers and subsequent claim by the Los Angeles Rams. Mayfield was playing on the fifth-year option of his NFL rookie deal, although his actual cap number and salary are much reduced compared to the original fifth-year option value.
Let’s take a look at Mayfield’s contract and his salary cap impact on the Rams for the remainder of the 2022 NFL season.
Baker Mayfield’s Contract Details and Bonuses
After being traded to the Panthers before the season, Mayfield’s contract for 2022 was valued at $4.858 million. This was because Mayfield took a pay cut of around $3.5 million, and the Cleveland Browns retained some of the fifth-year option as dead money.
With all of Mayfield’s cap hit for the Panthers in 2022 being base salary, that meant there was $1.349 million remaining for whoever claimed him. The base salary is paid on a per-week basis, including the bye.
Therefore, that $4.858 million in salary is paid to Mayfield at $269,889 per week. With five weeks left, that is how he has a cap number of $1.349 million remaining for the Rams this year.
That also means Mayfield leaves behind $3.509 million in money on the Panthers’ salary cap this season. However, that actually looks like a savings of $1.349 million. Had Mayfield passed through waivers unclaimed, then the Panthers would have been on the hook for the remaining money as the contract was fully guaranteed.
Mayfield’s fifth-year option comes on the back of his playing out a four-year, $32.683 million rookie contract with the Browns. That value was set in stone as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Additionally, the full contract was guaranteed, with a $21.849 million signing bonus and $8.374 million in roster bonuses.
That contract for Mayfield contained a fifth-year option, where the value depended on his performance in the first three seasons. Because Mayfield played more than 75% of the offensive snaps in two of the first three years but did not make it to the Pro Bowl, his fifth-year option was valued at $18.9 million. All of that money was guaranteed for the 2022 season.
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When Mayfield was traded, that $18.858 million was split across the Browns, Panthers, and Mayfield himself. All of the money should have, by rights, moved to the Panthers. However, to facilitate the trade, all three parties worked together to manage the financial aspect of the trade.
Firstly, there was the approximately $3.5 million pay cut that Mayfield took. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that the Browns took on $10.5 million in dead money as part of the trade. That left $4.858 million in salary for the Panthers in 2022.
As Mayfield plays on his fifth-year option, this is the final year of his rookie contract. Therefore, Mayfield is set to hit free agency this offseason, with his future in the NFL beyond 2022 uncertain, to say the least.