Why teams should wait out Browns’ Baker Mayfield trade market during 2022 NFL Draft

The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers should remain patient as the Cleveland Browns shop QB Baker Mayfield ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.

While some teams might have an inkling of interest in disgruntled Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield, those squads should simply hit “snooze” on any notion of a trade this week.

The Browns should want to unload Mayfield ahead of their mandatory minicamp to avoid any uncomfortable vibes on the practice field with new franchise QB Deshaun Watson. In turn, that should give potential buyers some leverage throughout draft weekend.

Why teams should wait out Baker Mayfield’s trade market

The Browns are presumably in win-now mode following the trade for Watson. While the QB could still be suspended for his 22 open civil cases that stem from accusations of sexual misconduct, the Browns have added journeyman Jacoby Brissett as a backup plan in case Watson is punished.

If the Browns want to contend right away, adding to their draft haul would be advantageous. The Browns have seven picks in the draft, and moving Mayfield would help add to their immediate assets. And there lies the kicker for Cleveland. In order to get an immediate return for Mayfield, they need to trade him during this weekend’s NFL Draft.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Carolina Panthers don’t plan to trade for Mayfield ahead of Day 1. That’s a smart move by the Panthers. If they only have lukewarm interest in Mayfield, they can risk waiting on a deal with the Browns.

Holding off on trading for Mayfield also gives the Panthers some smokescreen mystery at the No. 6 pick. That could help in a trade back or force an NFC South rival to trade up in front of them for a QB, allowing a potential franchise left tackle to slide to them.

If the Panthers and/or the Seattle Seahawks have interest in acquiring Mayfield, making the move after they pick in the top 10 is advantageous. It would allow both teams to see how the QB market plays out in their pick range while still giving them the possibility to trade back with the threat of a potential QB pick.

Adding assets for a Mayfield trade

For the Panthers, in particular, waiting on a trade for Mayfield makes a lot of sense. The Panthers are without Day 2 picks heading into the draft, so a potential trade back from No. 6 could be the right move.

In order to leverage that pick, the Panthers need to sell the mystery of wanting a QB. That outlook could force a team like the Seahawks or New Orleans Saints to overpay in a possible trade up. If that were to happen, the Panthers could obtain multiple 2022 draft picks — with one potentially being used to trade for Mayfield — without further damaging the youth movement of the weekend.

The Panthers could potentially still pick in the first half of the first round, trade for Mayfield, and get the Browns to pay for the majority of his salary by staying patient. The waiting game, especially this weekend, gives the Panthers leverage over the Browns — not the other way around.

The Browns are in a tough spot with Mayfield

The Browns want to move on from Mayfield, and the QB definitely wants to move on from them. While Cleveland got the guy they wanted in Watson, the Mayfield cloud has hung heavy over the organization since March. Now, it’s time to unload him without any locker room consequences.

The Browns know they’ll need to pay a good portion of Mayfield’s $18.8 million guaranteed salary and will probably only get an early Day 3 pick for him. They made peace with that scenario the second they traded for Watson. But ideally, that early Day 3 pick will be used in 2022 instead of 2023. That means that the Browns are running against the clock, and their potential trade partners are counting down the minutes as their leverage looms large.

The Browns should trade Mayfield by Saturday morning at the latest. If they can get a fourth-round pick out of Seattle or Carolina, they should roll with it.

If the Panthers and Seahawks are willing to wait, that should signal to the Browns that their options are dwindling, as is Mayfield’s value. The Panthers and Seahawks want a peach of a deal, and they’ll probably get it. The longer they wait, the better the deal will be for Mayfield, who badly needs a change of scenery.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles