Saturday, June 25, 2022

Proposed Trade Deals Browns Baker Mayfield to Toiling NFC Squad

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The Cleveland Browns will likely need to start thinking outside the box if they hope to sell Baker Mayfield for any real value. Though there may be a conventional way for the franchise to achieve the same result – an appeal to ego, nostalgia and what could have been.

In short, the Browns want a return for Mayfield that matches the value of a mid-tier NFL starter below the middle — something that comes at a significant premium these days. Cleveland also wants to get out of the quarterback’s onerous contract without having to foot the bulk of the nearly $19 million bill.

Conventional thinking dictates that Cleveland teams with no legitimate answers should look in the middle and work out a compromise with one of them, hopefully tipping in the Browns’ favor. Cleveland has tried and failed so far with both the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers.

The Browns failed because they essentially gave up all of their leverage, throwing the gun at a trade for former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and making it clear they had no use for Mayfield after getting his option for accepted fifth year and guaranteed his paycheck.

So unless desperation emerges elsewhere in the NFL from an injury or some other unforeseen circumstance that increases demand for Mayfield across the league, the Browns appear to be stuck. You can keep Mayfield on the roster, fire him and still pay most of his salary, or just wait. So far, the team has opted for option #3.

The other avenue Cleveland might take to some degree of success is by finding coaches and/or executives who were part of the front office that drafted Mayfield to the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. Luckily for the Browns, the general manager who made that decision, John Dorsey is now an influential member of the Detroit Lions’ front office — a team that may need a long-term fix at center.

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ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported in an article published Friday, June 10, that executives from across the league suggested the Lions be among the top candidates to land Mayfield outside of the frontrunners in Seattle and Carolina.

“Former Browns general manager John Dorsey, who voted Mayfield to lead the 2018 draft, is now part of the Detroit front office,” Graziano wrote. “He’s not the GM, but if he stood up for Mayfield, would it be ridiculous to think Mayfield could come in and compete with Jared Goff? Or replace Goff after this year?”

Goff was a member of the Los Angeles Rams until a pre-last-season trade sent him to Detroit in a package that brought back longtime Lions quarterback Matt Stafford. The Rams won the Super Bowl in Stafford’s first year at the helm while the Lions battled for a 3-13-1 record. That was good enough to place Detroit last in the NFC. The Lions finished just half a game ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had the worst record in the entire NFL.

Goff posted a record of 3-10-1 as a starter and threw for 3,245 yards accompanied by 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions, according to the Pro Football Reference.

The biggest obstacle to a deal with the Lions is probably financial, as Goff has a more than $31 million cap hit and a $41 million dead cap hit per Spotrac this season. The total of dead caps represents what it would cost the Lions to cut the bait with Goff this season.

However, Detroit may part ways with Goff after 2022 for the price of just $10 million. He is currently joined by Tim Boyle and David Blough, who share a combined 0-8 record as NFL starters.

Mayfield is a massive improvement over either player and arguably a better solution under center than Goff. Mayfield has a better record and slightly lower traditional numbers than Goff over the past three seasons. Additionally, it can reasonably be argued that much of Goff’s success in Los Angeles, which included a trip to the Super Bowl in 2018, can be attributed to the Rams’ offensive system under head coach Sean McVay.

The Lions have just over $10 million in available cap space per Over The Cap that they could use on a Mayfield deal if the Browns are willing to pick up a good chunk of his bill for the season – something that Cleveland probably has to do no matter where Mayfield goes. In turn, Detroit will likely have to part with a mid-round pick to win it.

That leaves the Lions with the choice of whether to face a potential QB of the future now at Mayfield – who has at least one tenacious contender with real starting experience and a playoff win under their belt – or muddle through another losing season and attempt to move forward of the position in 2023.

Mayfield is a massive improvement over either player and arguably a better solution under center than Goff. Mayfield has a better record and slightly lower traditional numbers than Goff over the past three seasons. Additionally, it can reasonably be argued that much of Goff’s success in Los Angeles, which included a trip to the Super Bowl in 2018, can be attributed to the Rams’ offensive system under head coach Sean McVay.

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