After many months of speculation, gossip, rumors, and hearsay, we learned this morning that Baker Mayfield is no longer a Cleveland Brown.
The Carolina Panthers have long been rumored as the possible landing spot for Mayfield, although the Carolina brass denied the talk on several occasions.
On Wednesday morning, Cleveland sent Mayfield to North Carolina for a conditional 2024 draft pick and will pay over $10 million of his salary.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) July 6, 2022
The Panthers will pony up just $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary.
Mayfield joins fellow 2018 first-round pick Sam Darnold, who joined the franchise last season after three uneven years with the New York Jets.
With Baker now departed from Cleveland, he joins a small but growing list of first-pick ineptitude.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Mayfield has become the third number one overall pick in the common draft era (since 1967) that lasted four or fewer seasons with the team that drafted him.
The other two that faltered are JaMarcus Russell (2007) and Jeff George (1990).
Baker Mayfield is only the 3rd quarterback picked No. 1 overall in the Common Draft Era (since 1967) to last 4 or fewer seasons with his first NFL team.
The others are JaMarcus Russell (3 seasons with Raiders) and Jeff George (4 seasons with Colts). pic.twitter.com/xpzqVVrSov
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 6, 2022
George was a hard-throwing gunslinger from the University of Illinois that was selected first by the Indianapolis Colts in the ‘90 draft.
He made it through the 1993 season before being traded to the Atlanta Falcons.
George then bounced around the league for over a decade playing for the Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and back to Oakland.
He retired after not being able to make the Raiders roster in 2006.
Another former Raider, Russell, was a much-hyped 6’6”, 260-pounder from LSU that Oakland believed would become their savior.
Instead, Russell started 25 games in three years, posted a 7-18 record as a starter, an 18-23 touchdown to interception ratio, and fumbled 25 times, including 12 during the 2009 season.
Unlike George, Russell never played another down in the NFL and is considered one of the biggest draft busts in league history.
Can Baker Bounce Back?
The hype surrounding Mayfield before the 2018 draft was huge.
He was a Heisman-winning hotdog from Oklahoma who guaranteed championship success and nearly delivered.
Mayfield produced over 3,700 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 14 picks in his rookie season.
He was then sacked 40 times in 2019 while still passing for over 3,800 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions.
Then, after passing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and a career-low eight interceptions in 2020, Mayfield helped lead the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Baker Mayfield Stats
(Last 8 Games of 2020 Reg. Season)
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 3, 2021
Cleveland then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round for their first postseason victory since 1994.
Mayfield passed for 263 yards and three scores during the win.
His ‘20 season heralded good things in 2021.
However, the hype ended during Week 1 when he threw an interception to lose a close game to the Kansas City Cheifs.
The following week, Mayfield tore the labrum in his left shoulder against the Houston Texans.
He was never the same after that as he tried to play through the injury and passed for career lows in touchdowns and yards.
This past offseason, the Browns signed former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, signaling the end of Baker’s time in Ohio.
Only time will tell if Mayfield can bounce back and reclaim the hype that enveloped him in 2018.
— Bernie Kosar (@BernieKosarQB) July 6, 2022
Carolina provides the opportunity for Baker to show that he was discarded and dismissed too early.
Or, the trade will show that the Browns were right all along.