3 common misconceptions about the Baker Mayfield situation

The result of the relationship between QB Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns is all but concluded. The only thing left is the timetable for the finalized divorce.

A quick look at the timeline:

With that minicamp starting this week, the Browns and Mayfield have bought themselves a little more time.

With all of the discussion around Mayfield since Cleveland acquired Watson, a couple of misconceptions have been commonly thrown around. While not everyone believes these misconceptions, they have come up enough that they are worth addressing:

The Browns can just have Mayfield sit home all year

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There has been talk from many that Cleveland should just tell Mayfield to stay home. This has come after suggestions that the team should / will just release him, pay him his entire salary and let him select his own team.

This is a misconception as Mayfield, like he did for the mandatory minicamp, must agree to stay home during the season. If he does not, the team is required to allow him access to the facility and everything that comes with it. They do not have to allow him to practice or play but they cannot keep him away from the team.

It is unlikely that either side wants a reunion but the quarterback may believe it is his best way to force a trade or, possibly, showcase his talents. While the two sides could agree, as they did for this week, it takes two to tango, as they say.

Browns will get a better compensatory pick than trading him

Another idea that has floated around that is a misconception is that the team should hold on to Mayfield and let him leave in free agency to get a compensatory pick back. While this is possible, it is unlikely for a few reasons:

  • Cleveland would swallow his entire salary leaving much less to roll over into next year when they will start to really need space

  • This would require either Mayfield to agree to stay home all year or the Browns to allow him around the team

  • This assumes the quarterback signs a decent sized contract this upcoming offseason

  • It also assumes that Cleveland is not active in free agency

The last point is likely but important to point out.

Looking ahead, the Browns salary cap starts to have needs pretty quickly. Even if they have to pay half of his salary, the team rolls the rest over into next year.

In 2021, to get at least a fifth-round compensatory pick, Tampa Bay only signed one free agent of note and lost three. They received a fifth-round pick for losing Jordan Whitehead whose contract paid him over $ 7 million a year. To move that up to a fourth-round pick, Dallas lost Randy Gregory who signed for $ 14 million a year.

The odds that Mayfield gets a big contract after sitting a year is minimal which means the odds of Cleveland getting a decent compensatory pick is also minimal.

Mayfield plays for Cleveland this year

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Some might read “after sitting a year” above and ask “What if he doesn’t sit?”

A fair question but no matter how you feel about Mayfield (or Watson for that matter), it seems very clear that he will not see the field for the Browns again. He could face Cleveland in Week 1 as a member of the Carolina Panthers but everything points to the end of the relationship.

While many will try to use logic to say that he should return if Watson is suspended for a lengthy amount of time, it seems that ship has passed. Instead, much like the Odell Beckham Jr. drama last year, both sides are ready to move on as soon as possible. There have been enough connected local and national media hinting around this fact for over a month now but none can come out and say it directly.

We don’t know when and we don’t know how but we almost certainly know that Mayfield will not put the Browns uniform back on again. Never say never but this is quite close to never.

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