Bestinau got that-
BEREA, Ohio – They didn’t come close to a deal.
That’s what I heard from a high-placed NFL source about the Browns’ trade talks with Carolina concerning QB Baker Mayfield that collapsed Friday.
The Browns are in a tough spot. The entire NFL knows they want to dump Mayfield after trading for Deshaun Watson. While Browns owner Jimmy Haslam denies it, many NFL owners are outraged over the fully guaranteed $230 million deal he gave to Watson.
Consider what Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said at the NFL Owners Meetings: “I wish they hadn’t guaranteed the whole contract. I don’t know that he should’ve been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract. To me, that’s something that is groundbreaking, and it’ll make negotiations harder with others.”
Bisciotti is upset because his QB Lamar Jackson is heading into the final season on his contract. Jackson can and should use the Watson contract as a starting point for his negotiations – and ask for more.
Watson sat out last season as he continues to deal with the 22 civil cases from women hanging over him. He is a 3-time Pro Bowler, but never went to the Super Bowl. How did this guy end up with a record-setting deal? At least, that’s the opinion of many in the NFL.
Not only does the deal include $80 million more guaranteed than anyone else in NFL history, it averages $46 million a year. That’s slightly higher than the $45 million annual salary for Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. The only QB with a higher average salary is Aaron Rodgers at $50 million.
You can imagine agents for other big time QBs using Watson to demand new contracts for their clients. Not a single NFL owner will say what the Browns did was smart for the NFL – which has consistently found ways to avoid the fully guaranteed contracts found in other sports.
Remember, it’s not about saving billionaires money. It’s about managing your salary cap.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MAYFIELD?
NFL owners are a club. They sometimes do favors for each other in deals. Other times, they make it hard for teams/owners they don’t like.
As the Browns talked to Carolina, the big issue was Mayfield’s $18.9 million salary. The Panthers have room on their salary cap to take him. They have a need for a QB, as Sam Darnold is their current starter. Picked in the same 2018 draft as Mayfield, Darnold started 11 games in 2021. The Panthers were 4-7. He threw 9 TD passes compared to 13 interceptions. He has been a mess for most of his NFL career.
Mayfield should be a significant upgrade. The Browns are willing to pay some of his salary. But Carolina wanted much of it paid. There was talk about draft choices being traded, but the Panthers believe the Browns have nearly zero leverage.
Carolina cut off negotiations and took Mississippi QB Matt Corral in the third round. Word out of Carolina is the talks are dead. Of course, they can be revived. But that seems unlikely, at least as of now.
THEN BAKER TALKED
Mayfield wants out of Cleveland. He hurt his own cause with an interview with the YNK podcast hosted by “Mike.” The headline from it was how Mayfield felt “disrespected” when the Browns pursued Watson and didn’t tell him first.
But he said some other things that won’t be pleasing to future employers.
“It’s a huge battle within the locker room in my position being a quarterback,” he said. “Some of these guys don’t play the game because they love it. They’re playing it to get a retirement fund. They’re making tons of a million dollars and they don’t care about winning.”
Perhaps Mayfield is right about that, but is this the time to call out your teammates? Remember, he’s still with the Browns. Also, name names if you want be a standup guy. Don’t talk about it on a podcast with a rapper named Mike.
“How can I get the best out of people that are making a ton of money?” said Mayfield. “I could always motivate people when we weren’t making money. … You get a pension after four years, how do you motivate people that are already at that point?”
Hey, Baker, that’s part of your job as an NFL QB.
If you’re running the Panthers or another team, what do you make of those remarks? Mayfield’s advisors should have told him not to say a word – at least until afterl he’s traded. Maybe they did, and perhaps he didn’t listen. Either way, bad move.
Mayfield has come across as immature before, and this is more fuel to that negative fire.
I hear their plan is to wait, perhaps a team will lose a QB to injury in training camp. They don’t plan to release Mayfield and let him pick his own team. Nor should they do that. Even if they have to pay most of his salary, it’s best to wait for some type of deal to emerge.
It’s hard to believe Seattle fails to see Mayfield as a better bet at QB than Drew Lock or Geno Smith.
But for now, the Browns are nowhere with Mayfield. He sits, a quarterback without a team. It may take quite a while for that to change.
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