The Cleveland Browns have found themselves in quite the pickle.
They currently are getting ready to show off their new franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson, that they just traded for. However, they still have to figure out how to unload former first overall pick Baker Mayfield.
Conventional wisdom would point to Cleveland trading Mayfield, but they are in the rare position of not exactly having too much leverage in trade talks for a quarterback. Not only have they replaced Mayfield with a player that will be given the most guaranteed money ever in NFL history, Mayfield has also killed most of his potential value by going out and bad-mouthing the Browns and former teammates while he waits.
This means the bidding war for Mayfield probably wouldn’t be at the level you’d expect it to be. Not to mention a team would likely have to extend Mayfield, because he is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
If, for whatever reason, the Browns find it to be more advantageous to just cut their former franchise quarterback than trade him, it appears he wouldn’t be headed far. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington says the Pittsburgh Steelers would be very excited to sign him.
“If for some reason the Browns, and I don’t expect this to happen, were to cut Baker Mayfield, I think he signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers the very next day,” Darlington told Get Up on ESPN. “Teams do still covet Baker Mayfield. They just don’t think that they need to give up as much as the Cleveland Browns are asking right now.”
Obviously, the likelihood of Mayfield getting outright released are very low. There are likely teams willing to give up picks in the middle of the draft, but Cleveland is probably holding out and trying to recoup some of their lost first round selections for the Watson trade.
It wouldn’t even be a doubt that the Steelers would be high on Mayfield’s list of preferred destinations either. A chance to play the Browns twice a season alone probably gets him to sign there. That would be too big for his ego to pass up on its own. Not to mention they have a pretty decent setup of skill position players to surround him with.
At this point, a trade is the most likely outcome. Mayfield didn’t report for the Browns’ offseason program, which gives the clear signal that he won’t be taking the field for Cleveland ever again, even with a potential suspension looming for Watson, who has been accused by 22 different women of various sexual assault allegations.
From a Cincinnati Bengals perspective, this would be one of the funnier outcomes. We would get to watch this play out, and whoever would come out on top seems like it would be equally hilarious.