For a short while, it looked like half of the Cleveland Browns‘ offseason intrigue was about to be settled.
Seattle put together an interesting deal for Baker Mayfield, and Andrew Berry had an offer he might not refuse.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the NFL offices.
The #Seahawks and the #Browns are still in discussions regarding QB Baker Mayfield. A deal was close to done, but a new team has reportedly entered the Mayfield sweepstakes as well. Stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/STUH5Ccrfy
— Michael Balko (@MichaelBalkoJr) July 3, 2022
From out of nowhere, a mystery team entered the Baker Mayfield discussions.
That team could be Berry’s fantasy football squad in a weak attempt to get Seattle to sweeten their bid.
But there are reason’s an actual NFL team might jump off the sideline at this late stage.
#Browns have been keeping Baker Mayfield trade talks close to the vest internally in Berea. Few people will know about any possible deal that is close.
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) June 27, 2022
Cleveland’s rumored willingness to eat half or a little more of Mayfield’s contract might tilt the table for someone.
And if Seattle is further lowballing the Browns, details have a way of leaking out and could prompt a better offer.
There is also a chance some team is newly concerned about their current quarterback after their OTAs.
Or maybe the price is right for a Super Bowl contending team to grab a potential Nick Folk-type of savior?
Mystery Team Could Be Almost Anybody
With Carolina and Seattle the known players in the game, the mystery team is one of 29 others.
Looking at things objectively, we can all but rule out about 10 teams with solid starters and backups.
Another 7-8 teams fall into the “Save-Our-Super Bowl” with an expensive backup upgrade:
Are the Bucs interested in Baker Mayfield? Rumor has it… Yes.. And honestly I'm here for it.. Mayfield sitting behind Brady and restructuring a contract for long term… Yeah I can see it happening.
— Jarod Gray (@jarodgray) July 4, 2022
Dallas, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, The Rams and Chargers, Kansas City, Green Bay, and maybe Cincinnati.
There is another group of teams who might be ready to create a quarterback competition.
Mayfield would be the underdog to start, but a legitimate contender to win a competition in training camp.
— Cade Beasley (@beasley_cade) July 5, 2022
Teams like Tennessee, Detroit, Houston, and Atlanta could upgrade their QB room and push their starters.
But cap issues and internal matters might block such an idea, as it does with Washington and the Giants.
Some teams, like Washington or Miami, could offer their current backup quarterbacks in a Mayfield deal.
And that could prove beneficial if the Deshaun Watson decision creates a need.
Here Are Our Top 3 Guesses
If Andrew Berry put a deal from Seattle on hold, it was probably for a trade proposal with starter value.
And we think these teams are most likely to put a big enough offer on the table to stall a decision.
New England says all the right things about Mac Jones, but he is not going to surprise any defenses this season.
And behind him, New England rolls out the aging Brian Hoyer and a 4th-round draft pick, Bailey Zappe.
Today is a great day to trade for Baker Mayfield @Panthers
— Not Matt Rhule (@CoachRhule) July 4, 2022
Bill Belichick sees the Patriots projected for 3rd place and that might prompt him to upgrade his quarterback room.
Right from the start, Indianapolis talked about all the things Matt Ryan can still do.
But what if Ryan’s high-mileage arm limits the Colts’ offense even more than expected?
How do you feel about Baker possibly being our QB 1?
— SeahawksNews (@_SeahawksNews_) July 1, 2022
Such a concern might earn Mayfield his initial wish to play in Frank Reich‘s offense, at least in a relief role.
Lastly, what if the mystery team is no mystery at all?
We think Carolina might have upped the ante when it looked like they would miss out on Mayfield.