Trade talks between the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns intensified around Baker Mayfield after minicamps concluded on June 16.
The Browns and Panthers are talking about a deal involving the former No. 1 overall pick and how much of the salary is being paid by which side.
Now, Baker Mayfield is in the fifth-year option of his rookie contract that guarantees him $18.8 million for the upcoming 2022 season.
This is a huge sum of money for any quarterback in general, but Mayfield’s production does not match the asking price. In fact, it’s not even close. He did take the Browns to the playoffs and secure a road victory but is mostly a league average or below average quarterback.
Carolina however needs a better quarterback, and better production than Sam Darnold. This is where Baker Mayfield is better, even if that is like comparing bad and worse at this point.
Both quarterbacks broke into the league in 2018, and while both disappointed in terms of expectations there are vastly different numbers. Mayfield owns 92 total touchdowns to 56 interceptions, Darnold is 54 and 52. Lastly the average QB rating for Mayfield is 87.8 while Darnold is 76.9.
Cleveland does not want the former starter and expressed belief that Jacoby Brissett can start if Deshaun Watson serves a suspension.
According to comments from Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski believes Brissett’s football IQ and physicality can mend the gap until Watson hits the field.
“He has played a lot of football for a young player. He is a smart player. He takes care of the football,”. “Good size can make all of the throws and those type of things. He has been in multiple offenses. Our offense is a little bit different than what he has done previously but has a really, really good understanding of football – football intelligence that is – so I just think he is a really good operator.”
The deal around Mayfield stalled around how much money each side pays him. Reports are that Cleveland pays half that or more.
The problem for Carolina is it pays Sam Darnold around that same figure of $18.8 million. If Carolina adds Mayfield, even if it is paying less than half his contract, it’ll be difficult to find a suitor for Darnold.
As written earlier, the Panthers own $25 million in cap space, second most in the league, so Carolina can offer an extension or a new contract before 2023 free agency.
Another way to play this is wait it out and sign Mayfield in free agency. The risk is Mayfield does not sign, but that is just another option. Without delving into too much detail $25 million could bring in another quarterback for Carolina.
Ultimately, if the black and blue pursue Mayfield in a trade, the salary negotiations are crucial. The fact that Carolina reportedly wanted the former No. 1 before minicamp concluded yet did not receive him may stall this further.
As the offseason progresses this story remains at the forefront of NFL news as these teams negotiate a deal.