In July 2022, the Cleveland Browns traded quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers. The Browns, coming off a winless season, made Mayfield the first pick in the 2018 draft.
He won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year at Oklahoma after finishing third behind Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson in 2016.
The optimism around Cleveland was high when Mayfield started to develop early in his career. Mayfield was also a popular figure during commercials on Sundays as a pitchman for an insurance company. The ads featured Mayfield as a resident of Browns Stadium.
How Did Baker Mayfield Start With the Browns?
Mayfield won 12 of 29 starts in his first two seasons and had the team contending for a Wild Card spot late in each season. The Browns won four total games in the three years before Mayfield arrived, including a 0-16 season in 2017.
Mayfield’s most successful season with Cleveland was in 2020, when the team went 11-5 and won a Wild Card game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Browns lost a close road game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Mayfield threw 26 touchdown passes and only threw eight interceptions that season.
When Did Mayfield’s Career in Cleveland Take a Turn?
The team started the 2021 season with high expectations, coming off the franchise’s first playoff win in almost two decades. The offense looked primed for a huge season with Mayfield, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and running back Nick Chubb.
Mayfield injured his non-throwing shoulder in Week 2, but the Browns were able to get off to a 3-1 start. The injury ended up derailing his season, as he threw 11 interceptions and completed less than 58% of his passes in the last 12 games he played.
Beckham ended up winning a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams after the Browns waived him in November. Mayfield threw four interceptions on Christmas Day in a loss to the Green Bay Packers as the Browns’ playoff chances started to fade. Cleveland finished 2021 with a disappointing 8-9 record.
How Did Mayfield’s Time in Cleveland End?
Before the 2021 season, the Browns and Mayfield talked about a long-term contract extension. The team picked up his $18.86 million option for the 2022 season, which would be his fifth season in the league.
The two sides never reached an agreement on a new contract, and Cleveland was open to finding a new quarterback for the 2022 season.
Mayfield posted a thank-you message on social media to the city of Cleveland the same day the team met with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
A couple of days later, Mayfield requested a trade that Browns management declined to accommodate at the time because the team believed Watson wasn’t going to be traded to Cleveland.
The Browns and Texans eventually reached an agreement on a Watson deal, leading to Mayfield being traded to the Panthers for a 2024 conditional draft pick.
What Happened to Mayfield After Cleveland?
Mayfield played seven games with the Panthers before being released during the 2022 season. He threw six touchdowns and six interceptions, and the team was 1-5 when he started.
Mayfield was then signed with the Rams and played five games as a replacement for an injured Matthew Stafford.
This past offseason, Mayfield signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to compete for the starting role vacated by Tom Brady’s retirement. Mayfield has led the team to a 2-0 start after beating out Kyle Trask for the starting job.