Baker Mayfield hit the trade market with an unceremonious thud after the Cleveland Browns landed Deshaun Watson.
One might expect a Heisman Trophy-winning, first overall draft pick one year off a playoff run to draw a lot of interest.
Mayfield even thought he was good enough to name his next team.
But the Indianapolis Colts were not interested in Mayfield’s services, nor were a few other teams with quarterback needs.
Baker Mayfield has informed the Browns that he'd prefer to be traded to the Colts, per sources. Earlier this week, prior to Mayfield's trade request, the Browns said they'd work with him on a trade. We'll see if they'll accommodate such a move to the AFC, though. @TheAthletic
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 18, 2022
In fact, Mayfield’s hottest suitor as the draft approaches is a team that reported “mutual disinterest” earlier this year.
Teams acknowledge there are many reasons for Mayfield’s substandard performance last season.
But it does not appear they are ready to accept those reasons as excuses.
After his disappointing follow-up to the 2020 playoff season, what is fair compensation for Baker Mayfield?
Selling Baker: Arm, Spirit
Mayfield’s arm injury should be a non-issue in 2022.
Not only was it in his non-throwing shoulder, but torn labrum repairs are common with a good prognosis.
To his credit, Mayfield is working with Patrick Mahomes‘ personal quarterback coach in the offseason.
Throwing motion and mechanics are Mayfield’s focus, but there are other things he needs to work on.
Following @RapSheet’s report that the #Panthers are not expected to trade for Baker Mayfield pre-draft, a look at why the #Seahawks make a lot of sense to move for the #Browns QB, including an #NFL exec telling me Seattle is ‘very much’ in the mix:https://t.co/lPaHjtGcNn
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) April 25, 2022
Teammates cited their quarterback’s toughness and grit but did not mention leadership or ability last year.
Body language on the field backed up some concerns about whether Mayfield had their trust.
When things went well in 2020, nobody questioned Mayfield’s role as the offensive leader.
But just like in 2019 when he admitted he didn’t deal well with adversity, Mayfield came up short in 2021.
Cleveland’s Bad Position
Ideally, Andrew Berry would have moved Mayfield before any Watson trade talk.
But that trade probably surprised Berry as much as anyone else and was done before Mayfield could be moved.
Now Berry is saddled with a quarterback on a $19 million guaranteed fifth-year option and few teams with a need.
And Mayfield’s goodbye letter, trade demand, and claims of disrespect aren’t making him more marketable.
The #Panthers are not expected to trade for #Browns QB Baker Mayfield prior to the first round of the NFL Draft, sources say, if they do it at all. Thursday has to play out first, before any other options are considered. Carolina picks No. 6.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2022
Most of the inquiring teams have to wonder how Mayfield will respond to competing for a starter’s role, too.
After all, if he was hurt by the notion Deshaun Watson is an upgrade, how will he react to getting beat by Marcus Mariota or Drew Lock?
And his pending free agency after the 2022 season brings Mayfield’s value even lower.
Is it worth it to shake up the quarterback room, and delay another player’s development, if Mayfield plans to walk?
What Is Fair Compensation?
Cleveland hopes at least one team, and preferably 2, see Mayfield as a backup plan to missing on a draft-day QB.
Carolina is the best bet for Mayfield because the coach and GM need to win games this year to save their jobs.
Teams like Seattle, Atlanta, and the Giants are more willing to lose games as they assess and rebuild.
Berry hopes another team (Saints?) realizes he has a talented passer just one injury-riddled year removed from the playoffs.
My new dream,
Baker Mayfield trade to the Saints
Josh Rosen re-signs with the Falcons
Sam Darnold stays the QB for the Panthers
NFC South would be Tom Brady, and 3 2018 Top-10 draft picks all on their second chances.
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) March 21, 2022
But he still might have to rely on conditional picks (and Mayfield’s future success) to maximize his return.
Mayfield’s value starts with a 2022 4th-rounder and can go higher along with more of a salary contribution.
But a bidding battle could prompt a team to chance a higher 2023 pick conditional on Mayfield re-signing or not.
Berry would consider it a win to land a 2022 Day-3 pick and a 2023 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round conditional selection.
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