If the Cleveland Browns trade Baker Mayfield, where will he land? With rumors of Mayfield and the Browns potentially parting ways, PFN Insider Tony Pauline has heard from sources close to the situation that Mayfield has a preferred destination, and it happens to be in the AFC South.
Where will Baker Mayfield be traded?
On the premiere episode of PFN Draft Insiders (which can be found every Tuesday at 8 PM ET on the PFN YouTube Channel), PFN Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo asked Pauline about the latest he was hearing around the Browns.
Pauline reported that he was told Browns general manager Andrew Berry has promised to work with Mayfield’s team and send him to a place of his choosing if they acquire Watson, if at all possible. If Mayfield had his choice, that place would be Indianapolis to play for the Colts, another team on the cusp of getting into the playoffs.
To view that specific segment of the show (35:40), click here — the full segment about the Browns begins around the 21:45 mark.
The Browns are currently courting Deshaun Watson and finished their meeting with him in Houston on Tuesday afternoon, according to sources who spoke to PFN Insider Aaron Wilson. Pauline reported that he was told Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has been the driving force in the Browns’ attempt to bring Watson to Cleveland, as he believes the soon-to-be-former Houston Texan is the missing piece of the Super Bowl puzzle.
The selling point for Watson to come to Cleveland? Unlike other teams presently courting Watson (Carolina, New Orleans, Atlanta), the Browns are the closest to not only making the playoffs but also going deep into the playoffs.
Watson will ultimately decide his fate as he holds a no-trade clause and will have the final say of where he ends up. Mayfield will also have the final say after this season, as sources told Pauline that even if he’s playing for the Browns this year, they don’t see a long-term future for him in Cleveland.
Baker Mayfield releases statement
Late Tuesday evening, Mayfield released a statement on Twitter.
“Cleveland, the past 4 years have been nothing short of truly life changing since I heard my name called in the draft to go to Cleveland. This is not a message with hidden meaning. This is strictly to thank the city of Cleveland for embracing my family and me. We have made many memories and shared growing in this process through all the ups and downs. I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God’s plan throughout this process.
“I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I’ve always done at every stage, and at every level. And that will not change wherever I take my next snap. Whatever happens…I just want to say thank you to the fans who truly embraced who I am and the mentality that aligned so well with this city’s hard working people.
“Cleveland will always be a part of Emily and my story. And we will always be thankful for the impact it has had and will have in our lives.”
Why a trade to the Colts could make sense
There are actually quite a few reasons why a Mayfield to Indianapolis connection could make sense. Mayfield was drafted first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. At the time, the general manager for the Browns was Chris Ballard’s former mentor John Dorsey. Dorsey and Ballard had previously worked together in the football operations department for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Could Ballard and Dorsey both have similar views on what it takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL? If so, this could help explain why Ballard is reportedly showing an interest in a player drafted by Dorsey first overall.
In addition to the Ballard and Dorsey connection, finances could also play a role in why Mayfield makes sense. The Colts are currently without a QB1 after trading away Carson Wentz. However, they do have a significant amount of cap space. Mayfield has an $18.9 million cap hit in 2022, a number that is low considering how much starting QBs make these days. The Colts currently have a projected $62.5 million in available salary cap space.
Realistically, Mayfield might be one of the cheapest options available right now. Were his numbers last season underwhelming? Absolutely. He completed just 253 of 418 attempts for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Yet, it is important to note that he suffered a number of injuries.
Mayfield is still young and once displayed the kind of traits that made him a first overall selection. The Colts currently have one of the best offensive lines and running backs in the NFL, a solid WR group, and a young defense. Adding a piece like Mayfield could provide the results Ballard was hoping Wentz could.