Had they not traded him to the Carolina Panthers, it would have been odd to have him on the roster while Deshaun Watson leads the team.
However, Mayfield’s effect with the Browns still looms because they will still pay $10 million of his fifth-year option salary.
But as they keep Mayfield on their payroll, it’s still uncertain whether Watson will play in 2022.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association went through three days of hearings to deliberate on his potential suspension.
The league is pushing for an indefinite suspension which will rule him out of the entire 2022 season.
For their argument, the league presented the cases of five women who filed charges against Watson.
On the other hand, Watson’s camp through the NFLPA and Jeffrey Kessler is pushing for a reduced suspension based on precedent-based judgment.
Kessler is an ace on Watson’s side because he helped Tom Brady during the Deflategate scandal.
With Mayfield now with the Panthers and Watson possibly sidelined for a second consecutive season, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco took note of the Browns’ blunder.
Browns could be left paying Watson and Mayfield and not have either one. Brilliant.
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) July 6, 2022
Prisco tweeted, “Browns could be left paying Watson and Mayfield and not have either one. Brilliant.”
It’s a situation that will take time to clean up.
The High Price To Acquire Watson
Initially, the Browns were eliminated from the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes and his likeliest destinations were the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.
But Cleveland overpaid to trade for the Pro Bowl quarterback and gave him a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
The team has structured the deal to soften the financial blow in his first season, possibly because they have anticipated his potential suspension.
Yet with Watson potentially missing another season of football, will he be the same player once he returns?
Likewise, will his legal battles haunt him on the field even if he ends up settling all of them?
What would be the realistic goal for him to say that the Browns got their money’s worth?
Therefore, the Browns have already overpaid and must deal with the consequences, especially with their limited cap flexibility.