I genuinely have no idea what the Cleveland Browns are doing.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to move on from former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield. Nothing at all. It is a business, after all. However, the way the Browns have gone about this baffles me.
Mayfield played the vast majority of last season with a torn labrum. Should he have put himself through that? Probably not. Did the Browns handle wanting to move on from Mayfield properly? Definitely not.
Mayfield has said the Browns weren’t truthful with him regarding what they planned, and now they’re paying the price for what they did.
The Browns picked up the fifth-year option on Mayfield’s rookie contract, and he is due slightly less than $19 million dollars this season. That’s not an easy thing to trade, and Mayfield’s injury only makes it harder.
The Browns reportedly do not want to pay any of Mayfield’s salary, which is why it’s taken so long to find a trade partner.
The Carolina Panthers are reportedly trying to acquire Mayfield again after trade talks with the Browns fell apart during NFL draft week in April.
Here’s where things get tricky.
The Panthers are already on the hook for Sam Darnold’s fifth-year option, which is also worth a cap hit of just under $19 million. No one on the Panthers has a larger cap hit than Darnold for this season, and they have around $25 million in cap space.
So yes, they have the cap space to get a deal done, but they don’t want to have that much money tied up by two, at this point, unproven QBs. If the Browns want Mayfield gone, they’re going to have to eat some of this contract.
And now for Deshaun Watson.
Simply put, this situation is an absolute mess, fiasco and disaster.
After shipping off three first-round picks, a third-round pick and two fourth-round picks, the Browns gave Deshaun Watson the most player-friendly contract in the history of American Football: $230 million guaranteed.
With Watson’s legal situation getting worse by the day, the NFL isn’t going to allow this to go on much further. A long suspension is coming. While the Browns might be able to get out of this ridiculous contract, those picks are gone. They aren’t getting them back.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslem has said he’s not the one who originally wanted Watson, but, as the owner, he could, at the very least, have prevented this. He didn’t, of course, because he wants his team to win football games.
At what cost, sir?
The Browns have thoroughly torched their relationship with the best QB they’ve had since returning to Cleveland, and these legal troubles with Watson will not be going away anytime soon.
Since Baker likely will not play a snap for the Browns this year, the options head coach Kevin Stefanski have are Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs.
Don’t feel bad for the Browns. They did this to themselves.
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