The Cleveland Browns have finally traded Baker Mayfield, agreeing to send the former No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers. Cleveland will send a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2024 to Carolina, putting an end to the saga that began when the Browns pursued Deshaun Watson.
Mayfield heads to the Panthers in the final year of his contract. As part of the trade, the Browns will pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary. Carolina owes Mayfield around $5 million, according to NFL Network, and the quarterback agreed to cut $3.5 million of his base salary.
Only the Los Angeles Rams are set to spend more money on quarterbacks than the Browns in 2022. Watson has a $46 million base salary. Browns backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett is signed to a one-year contract worth $4.65 million.
More: The #Browns will pay Baker Mayfield $10.5 million this season, which means they trimmed over $8 million in cash and salary-cap space. The #Panthers will pay Mayfield ~$5 million. Mayfield agreed to trim ~$3.5 million off his base salary.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 6, 2022
The #Browns are now set to pay out $62M cash to Deshaun Watson ($46M*), Baker Mayfield ($10.5M), & Jacoby Brissett ($4.65M) in 2022.
2022 Team QB Spending#Rams: $63M#Browns: $62.1M#Bills, $51.6M#Packers, $44.4M#VIkings: $42.8M
— Spotrac (@spotrac) July 6, 2022
Cleveland went all-on Watson earlier this offseason, despite the 20-plus lawsuits against the quarterback for alleged sexual misconduct and assasult. After trading the Houston Texans three first-round picks, the Browns inked Watson to a historic five-year contract worth $230 million, all of which is guaranteed.
Almost all of $46 million owed to Watson in 2022 was paid as a signing bonus. The structure of his contract would allow the quarterback to still make more than $45 million if his impending suspension lasts for less than a year.
Watson is expected to be suspended by the NFL this summer because of the allegations against him. The quarterback had a disciplinary hearing that lasted three days last week. There is no timetable for an official ruling about Watson’s playing status for the upcoming season.
Authorities have decided not to charge Watson with any crimes. The quarterback agreed to a settlement with 20 women who filed lawsuits against him.
Brissett is in line to start for Cleveland when Watson is out.
Mayfield is not guaranteed to become the starter in Carolina. He’ll have to compete with Sam Darnold, who was drafted two spots behind Mayfield in the 2018 draft.
Mayfield’s numbers suffered in 2021 as he battled through a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. In the 2020 season, Mayfield threw for 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 95.9 passer rating. Mayfield led the Browns to their first and only playoff win since 1994.
Watson last took a snap in the 2020 season. He led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards.