Highlights of the article:
- Cleveland Browns must weigh pros and cons of Baker Mayfield trade in 2022
- Oklahoma product is currently set to become a free agent in 2023
- Do the Browns’ positives that could negotiate Mayfield outweigh the negatives?
Technically speaking, Baker Mayfield has been all Cleveland browns considered when they selected him to top the 2018 Draft. The Oklahoma product came on Dec. 20, 2021, career 29-28, and he has the Browns in the hunt again in the playoffs.
Considering the franchise’s infamous history, the fact that Mayfield even has a winning record at this point in his career in Cleveland is a miracle. However, his future beyond 2022 remains uncertain despite the victory; he is slated to become a free agent in the spring of 2023, and there has been no credible update about him signing a long-term contract extension.
Over the next several months, the Browns will need to weigh heavily the pros and cons of trading the most successful quarterback in modern franchise history.
Mayfield and Browns clearly need to consider making a fresh start in 2022
Overall, Mayfield has had a great first four seasons in Cleveland. He entered Week 15 of the 2021 season with a career completion percentage of 62.1, 13,718 yards, 88 touchdowns and 50 interceptions. Perhaps more importantly, he’s only thrown 15 picks since the start of the 2020 campaign.
However, the end of his stay in Ohio could nonetheless be approaching. Mayfield has battled injuries and used his guns throughout the 2021 season. The fathers of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (now with the Los Angeles Rams) and running back Kareem Hunt have each publicly criticized the fourth-year quarterback for his play and decision-making.
Earlier this year, Cleveland took Mayfield’s fifth-year option and guaranteed his salary of $ 18.8 million for 2022 in the process. When the Browns made that move, however, they envisioned it building a stellar 2020 campaign and turning the long-suffering organization into one of the best teams in the AFC.
While he deserves credit for playing despite injuries, Mayfield seemed limited as a passer and the Browns suffered 7-6. Opponents outscored Cleveland 289-278 in the first 14 weeks of the season.
At the time of publication, the Browns still had a chance to win the AFC North for the first time in franchise history. Cleveland last won a division title in 1990 when he won the AFC Central, the division that became the North in 2002. Either way, that accomplishment might not be enough to keep Mayfield in. Ohio for the long haul.
Can the Browns guarantee a better quarterback situation in 2022 if they trade Mayfield?
As with any big decision, the Browns have to weigh the pros and cons of Mayfield’s passing. For what it’s worth, the 26-year-old hasn’t helped his case in recent months, and his playing is only part of the problem. He’s shot fans and his wife, Emily, has made controversial social media comments on several occasions, including one earlier this season, implicating the quarterback’s teammates lacking tenacity.
Fair or not, those comments and apparent lack of chemistry and general respect could – and should – open the door to Mayfield’s departure. There will always be players who complain about not having targets or wanting more shots. However, problems naturally arise when a quarterback lashes out at fans, especially those in Cleveland who survived many cold days at the Factory of Sadness, and his wife is unsure of when to stop posting on Instagram. .
On the other side of the coin, Mayfield played well at times and learned to avoid returning the ball. He has only played three games with two interceptions in 30 games (28 in the regular season, two in the playoffs) since the start of the 2020 season; Tom Brady, for all his positives, has done it eight times in 34 total games during that span.
At its core, Mayfield is a game manager quarterback who hasn’t learned how to shut up – or how to get his wife to put her phone down. Unless he dumps all of his electronics in Lake Erie, there’s no reason to believe either will change as long as they both reside in Ohio.
Should the Browns trade Mayfield or should they keep him for another year?
For the sake of time and sanity, we are not going to discuss a trade package here. The goal is to determine if the Browns should consider trading in Mayfield, not what the organization should demand in return.
At this point, we think the Browns should only trade Mayfield if they can guarantee a better option is in place next year. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are each top quarterbacks, even though they’re significantly older than the Oklahoma product. While both are accomplished backups, Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are not the answer. If Wilson becomes available and wants to play in Cleveland, the Browns must continue that move.
When it comes to the draft, the Browns aren’t likely to lose much by using a pick other than the first round on a quarterback. Cleveland currently holds eight 2022 draft picks, including two in the fourth round, and could afford to use one on a developing player who could open next season behind Mayfield.
Obviously, things may change in the coming months. The situation becomes much more different if Mayfield wins a Super Bowl or, conversely, if his wife issues a five-message rant that Cleveland is a disgusting city and that Michael Jordan is a far superior player than LeBron James.
Good, some in Cleveland might agree with the latter view, but our view remains.
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