Exactly 111 days after requesting a trade from the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield finally got his wish.
On Wednesday, the Browns and Panthers agreed to a trade that sends Mayfield to Carolina.
In exchange, the Browns landed a conditional 2024 pick.
The Panthers and Browns were in discussions over Mayfield for months, with the biggest kicker being Mayfield’s salary.
Eventually, the Browns agreed to pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary, while Carolina agreed to pay roughly $4 million.
Mayfield himself took a pay cut of $3.5 million that can be earned back through playing incentives.
Bye Bye, Baker
Fan reaction to Mayfield’s trade ran the gamut:
Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers are scheduled to play the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.
Just perfect scheduling. 🍿🍿
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) July 6, 2022
I get the skepticism with Baker Mayfield. But bruh….it cost $4.85M and a conditional 5th. Lighten up.
— The 4 Man Rush (@4ourmanrush) July 6, 2022
Baker Mayfield pic.twitter.com/PRNa5OOcQb
— McNeil (@Reflog_18) July 6, 2022
the Panthers really traded away…
all to assemble a QB room of:
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) July 6, 2022
Mark my words, the Browns are going to regret trading Baker Mayfield this season.
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) July 6, 2022
“If anybody's going to turn that franchise around, it'd be me”
-Baker Mayfield, 2018
He did. Thank you @bakermayfield and Godspeed. pic.twitter.com/27zTsjNN3N
— angrybrownsfans (@angrybrownsfans) July 6, 2022
Throughout Baker Mayfield’s career, both pro and college, he’s gone scorched earth on any person or team he believes has wronged him. In short, I can’t wait for Week 1.
— Julian Council (@JulianCouncil) July 6, 2022
Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold sitting at lunch together in Carolina after both being drafted Top 3 in 2018 💀🤣 pic.twitter.com/uR9DwzrIQw
— Wagr (@withwagr) July 6, 2022
Mayfield leaves Cleveland while the franchise is mired in serious turmoil.
Back in March, the Browns traded six picks to the Houston Texans in exchange for Deshaun Watson, who faced 22 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct.
Now, Watson faces league punishment, including a possible indefinite suspension, for his behavior.
Nonetheless, the Browns are chained to Watson for the foreseeable future after giving him a five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed.
Mayfield, for his part, is entering a fraught situation in Carolina.
The Panthers haven’t been relevant since 2016.
That season, Carolina went 15-1 with Cam Newton, falling just short in the Super Bowl.
Carolina has won more than six games in just two seasons since, with a combined record of 15-34 over the last three seasons.
Further, the Panthers are lacking any sort of foundational control, be it in coaching or team leadership.
Head coach Matt Rhule’s seat is hotter than the sun, with little high-end talent existing outside cornerback Jaycee Horn and receiver D.J. Moore.
And while Mayfield might enter Carolina as the best quarterback option, he’s not alone.
Sam Darnold, who was selected two picks after Mayfield in 2018, is in Carolina.
So is Matt Corral, who the Panthers selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Mayfield might start Week 1, but he’ll have no shortage of competition.
Speaking of Week 1, hope you like popcorn, because the Browns take on none other than the Panthers to open the season.
Best Of Times
Mayfield’s tenure in Cleveland was polarizing, to say the least.
His sometimes mercurial attitude made him both insanely easy to root for and yet puzzling to watch at the same time.
His rookie and sophomore years were excellent.
That year, Mayfield set a rookie record for most touchdowns thrown (27).
But Mayfield struggled adapting to significant coaching turnover, including the rapid promotion and firing of Freddie Kitchens, who was replaced by Kevin Stefanski thereafter.
And since Stefanski came aboard, Mayfield’s numbers dipped.
Some of that has to do with a shoulder injury that seriously inhibited Cleveland’s passing offense down the stretch last season.
Regardless, Mayfield inaugurated a new era of Cleveland football, one highlighted by winning.
In the three seasons before Mayfield was drafted, the Browns were an abhorrent 4-44.
But Mayfield leaves Cleveland as the post-1999 era’s leader in wins as a starter (44), passing touchdowns (92), completions (1,185), and passing yards (14,125).
But the craziest stat of all?
In 2020, Mayfield secured the most wins in FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns’ home turf.
The previous record holder?
Ben Roethlisberger, who played 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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