Cleveland continues to show no urgency in removing Mayfield from their roster.
At least not unless someone wants to take his guaranteed $18.8 million salary with him.
#Browns GM Andrew Berry on not being able to deal Baker Mayfield yet: "That’s a fluid situation.”
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) April 30, 2022
That doesn’t seem likely to happen because the rest of the NFL assumes the Browns will eventually cut Mayfield.
But Andrew Berry still sees Mayfield as a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, and a bargain at $19 million.
So much of a bargain that teams should part with some draft picks to acquire Mayfield’s services.
Why Mayfield is a $19 Million QB
Baker Mayfield is a quarterback with a high ceiling, a gun for an arm, and playoff experience.
While he was just one of many pieces in the Browns’ rebuilding efforts, he was the offensive leader.
By the numbers, Mayfield can claim he was a top-10 quarterback when last healthy as measured by QBR.
Spotrac values his services at $31 million per season and would expect a 5-year deal in free agency.
Baker Mayfield hasn’t had to do much tonight, but that was a perfect drive before halftime. Crushed any momentum the Steelers had.
— TJ Eckert (@TJEckertKTUL) January 11, 2021
Kevin Stefanski constantly told fans that even with his array of injuries in 2021, Mayfield gave the team a chance to win.
Mayfield showed toughness and grit, playing with his non-throwing arm in a brace, and heel, groin, and knee injuries.
Cleveland fans will forever remember their first playoff victory in decades and the Mayfield-led 12-6 season.
And they know how doubting him simply makes Mayfield better.
Why Mayfield Is Not a $19 million QB
Cleveland’s management continues to promote Mayfield’s status as a viable starting NFL quarterback.
But other GMs see telltale signs of weakness in his game, beyond faulty footwork and delivery.
Mayfield can be reasonably cast as a “fair-weather quarterback.”
That is, when things are going well, he’s in command, and when things go south, he struggles.
The Browns have lost 19 straight games when trailing by 10+ points at any point.
Their last win was Week 3 in 2018 against the Jets when they trailed 14-0.
It was Baker Mayfield's NFL debut as he came off the bench for Tyrod Taylor in the comeback win. pic.twitter.com/NCMmUo0GID
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2021
Tom Brady lost 3 Super Bowls because the Giants and Eagles made the pocket a painful place to be.
But Patriots fans had hope until the end because they knew their quarterback had it in him.
Mayfield has a dismal record in comeback chances and down the stretch of close games.
For every late touchdown given up by Cleveland’s defense, there is a 3-and-out or turnover that didn’t help.
$19 Million Should Buy a Leader
Baker Mayfield boldly proclaimed he would lead the Browns out of the depths of 1-31.
He played through pain and practically had to be hog-tied to sit out the Denver game last year.
But it didn’t seem to inspire anyone in Cleveland, partly evidenced by the lack of verbal support from teammates.
In the first Pittsburgh game, Mayfield took a hard hit out of bounds and jumped up pumping his arms in defiance.
#Browns QB Baker Mayfield says he still expects to play Thursday night vs. Denver. He drops some news and adds that his labrum was *fully torn* after Week 2.
"Only I know how my body feels. It's my decision. I get to say whether I play or not and that's how it is."
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 19, 2021
His teammates casually walked back to the huddle and followed it up with a pair of ho-hum plays and a punt.
Nobody rallied behind their abused leader or looked to retaliate for the late contact.
On a broader, more abstract scale, Mayfield failed repeatedly to fight through the difficulties of 2021.
And this is something we saw before when he admitted to “losing himself” amid the chaos of the 2019 season.
Does Cleveland Expect Too Much?
When the Browns initially failed to land Deshaun Watson, Mayfield could have declared he would lead them to glory.
Instead, he essentially quit and demanded a trade from the team, even dictating where he wanted to go.
Mayfield groused about disrespect and lies, even as the Browns said they expected him to bounce back in 2022.
When he asked on a friend’s podcast how to motivate paid teammates, Mayfield’s value hit rock bottom.
Regarding Baker Mayfield and trade value here are some recent QB trades that I could see being considered for comparison pic.twitter.com/ysWT5iucGr
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) March 22, 2022
One can argue Mayfield destroyed his own trade value, either maliciously or accidentally.
But the damage is done and Cleveland has to realize their asking price is too high if they want to move him.
Unless a team’s situation changes drastically, the Browns could end up paying Mayfield to play elsewhere this year.
Or they can pay him to stay home as a weekly inactive and hope for a compensatory draft pick in 2023.