One of the biggest hangups in a potential Mayfield deal is the quarterback’s contract.
Next season, Mayfield is set to earn $18.8 million, the 13th-highest figure among quarterbacks, per Spotrac.
Someone is going to have to pony up and pay Mayfield’s salary.
Thus far, the Browns haven’t appeared willing to do so.
Meet Me Halfway
Breer explained on the Rich Eisen Show that Cleveland is willing to pay half of Mayfield’s salary:
“Cleveland’s been willing to take on a fair amount of Baker’s salary, like $9, $10 million. For people out there who think that Cleveland’s holding on to Baker as Deshaun insurance, they wouldn’t be offering to take on a pretty significant portion of the guy’s salary if they were looking to hold him until there’s more clarity in the Deshaun Watson case.”
Even paying $9 million would be a major hit for a player who certainly won’t even suit up for the team.
Fortunately, the Browns have $42 million in cap space right now, the highest in the league for 2022, per Over The Cap.
But the Browns don’t exactly have the luxury of waiting.
In a normal offseason, the Mayfield saga would likely be a team’s biggest storyline and borderline distraction.
But for the Browns, Mayfield is a distant second behind Deshaun Watson.
Immediately after trading the team’s future for Watson, the Browns handed out a logic-defying five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million deal.
Not only is Watson a major moral, ethical, and legal problem, but his financial impact on the Browns could be crippling.
For example, the Browns have significant cap space this season, mainly because Watson’s mega-deal doesn’t kick in until next year.
In 2023 and 2024, the Browns project to have one of the worst cap situations in football.
Compared to $230 million, $10 million looks like a pauper’s sum to pay for one of Cleveland’s headaches off the table.
Close, But No Cigar
Is $10 million enough to push the needle in Carolina?
Breer also weighed in on the Panthers’ perspective:
“If [the Panthers] were in a position where they only had to pay him $4 or $5 million, then I think there is a decent chance that Baker Mayfield would be in Carolina now and Cleveland would have a draft pick for him.”
So it seems there is still a good deal of work to be done to pull off a deal.
Nonetheless, it’s a promising sign that the two teams have slowly crept closer and closer to an amicable solution.
Also note the trade compensation the Browns would receive from Carolina: a draft pick.
So don’t go expecting Robbie Anderson to come back in a Mayfield trade.
Maybe if the Browns agree to pay up a little more dough, they could bargain for a draft pick plus a practice squad player.
But don’t bet on it.