For a while, the Panthers appeared to have the Baker Mayfield market to themselves. Regarding a trade, that still may be the case. But the Seahawks continue to represent an interested party.
Mayfield is also interested in a Seattle destination, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com, describing the Seahawks as more likely to acquire Mayfield than the Panthers — unless Carolina and Cleveland can move closer on trade terms. Those teams have been haggling over Mayfield’s contract for several weeks, though it is unknown what kind of compensation the Panthers are offering.
Not long after the Browns’ Deshaun Watson acquisition, Mayfield floated Seattle as his most likely landing spot. But the disgruntled QB was not exactly confident at that point, and the subsequent delay has only moved him further into NFL limbo. The Seahawks and Panthers worked with their in-house QBs throughout the two-month offseason program, but with Mayfield’s resume (as inconsistent as it is) presenting him as an upgrade for both teams, it is understandable he continues to be connected to each.
Carolina, however, has been the only team seriously mentioned as a Mayfield trade suitor. The Seahawks are not believed to have entered substantial negotiations with the Browns about splitting up Mayfield’s contract, with the NFC West team mentioned as only being interested in the QB as a free agent. That represents an interesting variable. The Seahawks have held a Geno Smith–Drew Lock competition, and Pete Carroll has said a trade for a third QB is unlikely. Of course, the 13th-year Seattle HC has offered some QB misdirection in the not-so-distant past.
Mayfield being interested in succeeding Russell Wilson in Seattle could provide some urgency for Carolina to finalize a trade. On the other end, the Panthers’ frequent talks — which are believed to have led to the Browns agreeing to pay around $10MM of Mayfield’s fully guaranteed $18.9MM salary — would stand to serve as a warning to the Seahawks they might miss out by not trying to acquire the fifth-year passer via trade. Thus far, the Seahawks have been willing to risk Mayfield going to the Panthers by not entering known trade talks.
Then again, the Seahawks just completed a major QB transaction after little surfaced regarding trade talks. The Broncos had been mentioned as a team Wilson would waive his no-trade clause for, but GMs John Schneider and George Paton‘s negotiations — between the Combine and early March, when the future Hall of Famer was dealt for a monster trade package — largely proceeded off the grid. If the Seahawks are potentially conducting trade talks with the Browns, that could prompt the Panthers to make a better offer.
If this process does reach the point the Browns cut Mayfield — which the AFC North team has continually resisted — the passer’s Seahawks interest would be relevant if it comes down to a Carolina-or-Seattle free agency decision. More than a month away from training camp, that scenario remains far off. But it would certainly be better for one of these teams to make a move earlier, in an effort to have Mayfield up to relative speed on his new team’s scheme by camp.