The Cleveland Browns have agreed to trade quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Mayfield, the Browns’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has been the team’s starting quarterback for the last four seasons. In his career, he has throw for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions for an 87.8 passer rating. He was injured in 2021, and had his worst season as a professional, prompting Cleveland to attempt to replace him this offseason.
The Browns acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans for a huge package of draft picks including three first rounders, and signed him to a record-breaking contract extension.
Watson’s eligibility for the 2022 NFL season is up in the air. He had a hearing with NFL discipline officials last week as the league decides his punishment for his behavior. 24 women have alleged that Watson committed sexual misconduct in lawsuits, 20 of which he has settled.
The potential of a season-long suspension for Watson left the door open to Mayfield remaining the Browns’ starting quarterback in 2022, but that did not seem to be a step he was interested in.
“I think for that to happen there would have to be some reaching out,” Mayfield said last week at his youth football camp. “But we’re ready to move on, I think, on both sides.”
Without Mayfield, Jacoby Brissett will now be second on Cleveland’s depth chart and the projected starter if Watson is suspended. Former Steelers quarterback Josh Dobbs will be third on the depth chart.
According to Rapoport, the two sides will split Mayfield’s fully guaranteed $18.86 million salary for 2022, so Cleveland will recoup over $9 million in 2022 salary cap space. Mayfield will be a free agent after the 2022 season unless he signs an extension with Carolina.
The Panthers had been moving through the offseason with Sam Darnold in place as their starting quarterback despite a mediocre 2021 season, his first with the team since coming over in a trade from the New York Jets.
Carolina went offensive line with both of its first two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, electing to go with Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral at quarterback and leave the position to Darnold.
Taken two picks after Mayfield in 2018, Darnold has had little of the Cleveland quarterback’s NFL success. In for seasons, he’s throw for 10,624 yards, 54 touchdowns and 52 interceptions for a 76.9 passer rating.
The trade remains pending a physical, an important step after Mayfield suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder that severely impacted his 2021 season.