Cleveland Browns trade Baker Mayfield for Carolina Panthers for conditional pick-up

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns have agreed to trade quarterback Baker Mayfield for the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a conditional selection, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The Panthers will pay $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary, while the Browns will pay $10.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Mayfield has agreed to waive the remainder of his $18.8 million salary to facilitate the deal, which is pending a physical, the source said.

The Browns will be given a choice of either the fourth or fifth round in 2024, depending on Mayfield’s playing time in Carolina.

The news was first reported by NFL Network.

Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, joins a Panthers team that already has Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, on his quarterback depth map. The Panthers also selected Matt Corral in the third round of this year’s draft.

Now Mayfield and Darnold, who competed to become the No. 1 pick in 2018, will once again compete in training camp to compete for the right to be the Panthers’ starter this season.

The Mayfield trade comes on the heels of Cleveland’s blockbuster deal with the Houston Texans that landed quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns gave Watson a new five-year deal worth $230 million fully guaranteed, the richest guaranteed money deal in NFL history by a margin of $80 million. Cleveland also handed in three first-round picks in the deal, the first team to do so for one player since the Minnesota Vikings traded three first-rounders to the Dallas Cowboys before falling back to Herschel Walker in 1989.

With Mayfield gone, the Browns have starter Watson as quarterback, along with Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs. However, Watson may not be available for the Browns at all this season. He has been accused in civil lawsuits by 25 women of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior during massage sessions. His hearing before the jointly appointed disciplinary officer of the NFL and NFL Players Association, Sue L. Robinson, ended Thursday after three days.

The NFL has been pushing for a suspension for at least a year, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. There is no timetable for Robinson’s decision.

If Watson is suspended, the Browns are expected to start Brissett as quarterback.

The trade with Watson effectively ended the Mayfield era in Cleveland. The Browns selected the former winner of the 2018 Heisman Trophy No. 1 and he made his debut on Week 3 that season, taking the Browns to their first win in 635 days. He finished second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting while breaking the NFL rookie record with 27 touchdowns. That record was broken later in 2020 by Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, who finished with 31 touchdown passes.

Mayfield’s tenure, however, was marred by inconsistency, drama and a left shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the 2021 season.

During his four years in Cleveland, Mayfield, according to multiple sources, had grown increasingly frustrated with a franchise that had made him the fourth quarterback in NFL history to play for four different head coaches in his first three seasons. Even after Mayfield led the Browns to their first playoff win in 26 years during the 2020 season, the team declined to engage Mayfield’s camp in a potential contract extension once he qualified for a contract extension, signaling to Mayfield that he may not be in for long. the team sits. – term plans.

Mayfield then suffered a torn labrum to his non-throwing left shoulder in Week 2 of the 2021 season. Rather than sit still or undergo season-closing surgery, Mayfield played through the injury and struggled for much of the season. A season after finishing in the top 10 in QBR in 2020, he fell all the way to 27th in 2021, the biggest QBR drop (-30.4) of any passerby in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Still, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry had repeatedly publicly confirmed in the past two months that Mayfield would remain their quarterback.

At the February combine, Berry told Mayfield’s agent that the Browns might be pursuing an elite-level quarterback like Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Mayfield’s camp was also aware that the shortlist could eventually include Watson, even with 22 civil cases pending at the time for inappropriate behavior and sexual assault during massage sessions.

On March 12, when a Texas grand jury refused to charge Watson, the Browns took their turn and arranged a meeting with Watson in Houston.

Multiple sources told ESPN that Mayfield was angry that the Browns had not informed him directly that they were meeting Watson; instead, he found out through social media. Mayfield responded that night with a statement thanking the city of Cleveland and its fans “who truly embraced who I am,” as Browns officials flew back from Houston.

However, the breaking point for Mayfield with the Browns came the next day.

On March 16, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that a Browns source had told him the team wanted to replace Mayfield with “an adult in that position.”

Mayfield requested a trade the next day. The Browns initially told him that they “did not comply with his request”. But after Cleveland Watson landed, that made Mayfield expendable.

As a result, Mayfield becomes only the third quarterback in NFL history to become No. 1 overall in the draft and last four or fewer seasons with the team that drafted him, according to ESPN Stats & Information, joining JaMarcus Russell (Raiders) and Jeff George (Foals).

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