Baker Mayfield

Mutual Interest Between Baker Mayfield, Seahawks?

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 SmithDrew 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.

Poll: How Should Panthers Proceed At QB?

Without a long-term quarterback plan since injuries began to keep Cam Newton off the field, the Panthers have attempted to land big fish at the position for a bit. But they have been unable to do so, leaving the team with a major question at the game’s premier position in a rather important year for Matt Rhule.

Carolina made serious efforts to trade for Matthew Stafford, offering a first-round pick and change, and Deshaun Watson, whom the team was linked to for over a year. Neither panned out, with the Rams swooping in late for a player who has since become a Super Bowl-winning QB. Although the Falcons were believed to be the second-place finishers for Watson, the Panthers also balked at the $230MM guarantee the Browns authorized. An inquiry into Russell Wilson‘s status went nowhere, with the longtime Seahawks QB prioritizing a Denver move.

The Panthers still have Sam Darnold, whom they acquired for three draft choices — including a second-round pick — last year. Darnold, 25, struggled through an injury-interrupted 2021 season, putting his status as Carolina’s 2022 QB in doubt. But the Panthers, upon trading for the former Jets top-three pick, exercised the scuffling passer’s fifth-year option. Darnold is guaranteed $18.9MM this year, and Rhule has praised his work this offseason.

The primary reason for the frequent Carolina-centric headlines this offseason, Baker Mayfield, 27, remains on the team’s radar. An early report this offseason indicated neither the Panthers nor Mayfield were on-board with a trade that moved the former No. 1 overall pick to Charlotte, but the NFC South team has come around. The Panthers have been by far the team most closely connected to Mayfield, having engaged with the Browns in trade talks during the draft and resuming them recently.

How Mayfield’s fully guaranteed $18.9MM salary would be divvied up would seem a somewhat minor hiccup, at least compared to the prospect of making a QB upgrade, but that component has stalled the talks for several weeks. The Browns were believed to offering to pay barely $3MM of Mayfield’s salary during the mid-draft talks, but they have since upped that figure to around $10MM. The Panthers have wanted the Browns to pay nearly $14MM of the figure. Cleveland holds the NFL’s most cap space, with Carolina at No. 2. It would seemingly benefit the Panthers to make this deal soon to give Mayfield as much time as possible to learn Ben McAdoo‘s playbook, and the Seahawks are lurking in the event Mayfield is cut.

Jimmy Garoppolo looms as an option as well, but Carolina is not believed to be interested in trading for him. The four-plus-year 49ers starter is tied to a $26.9MM base salary — one that becomes fully guaranteed in Week 1. The Panthers would be interested if the 49ers cut him, though the 30-year-old passer is coming off a three-injury season — one culminating with a throwing-shoulder surgery that paused his trade market.

Teams can certainly hold out to see if the 49ers — who have Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa extensions on their docket but hold little in cap space — blink on Garoppolo’s salary ahead of his guarantee vesting. But the Panthers waiting that long runs the risk of Garoppolo not joining the team until just before the regular season. That would not put him in good position to succeed. Although frequently scrutinized, Garoppolo did rank 12th in QBR in 2019. That Super Bowl-qualifying campaign also marked his only healthy season in the past four.

Ranking 29th in 2021 QBR, Darnold trailed a hobbled Mayfield (27th) last season. Mayfield’s best QBR season (2020, when he ranked 10th) outpaces Darnold’s by a notable margin. A 25th-place finish in 2019 is Darnold’s best mark, and although he has not been given a favorable draw in four seasons, the USC product teeters on the bust cliff. That said, Mayfield’s 2020 is the outlier in his past three seasons, a span that included a 2019 regression and the injury-plagued 2021 that is leading him out of Cleveland.

The Panthers have outfitted Darnold with a better offensive line this year, and a healthy Christian McCaffrey would make a difference. But are Darnold (or third-rounder Matt Corral, who profiles as a longer-term project) and healthy versions of Mayfield and Garoppolo close enough in ability to venture into training camp without Carolina making a move? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.

Latest On Seahawks’ Interest In QB Baker Mayfield

The Panthers have been the recent favorite to acquire quarterback Baker Mayfield, but it sounds like another suitor is still considering a trade for the Browns quarterback. According to Josina Anderson (on Twitter), the Seahawks continue to have a “high level of interest” in acquiring Mayfield.

[RELATED: Browns Willing To Pay Half Of Baker Mayfield’s Salary To Facilitate Trade?]

Seattle isn’t only interested in a trade for Mayfield; they’re also interested in giving the former first-overall pick a contract extension. Anderson cautions that the Seahawks front office is still “collecting information and insights,” so a trade doesn’t sound like it’s imminent.

However, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets some conflicting information, noting that nothing has really changed on the Seahawks front and they’re still interested in Mayfield if he gets released by the Browns. This would obviously require some kind of new deal, so both reporters seem to be on the same page about Seattle’s willingness to sign Mayfield to a long-term deal. However, Condotta makes it clear that the Seahawks have “zero interest” in acquiring Mayfield on his current contract.

Recent reports indicated that the Panthers were also wary of inheriting Mayfield’s $18.9MM salary. While the Browns were initially unwilling to pay much (if any) of the QB’s salary, it sounds like the team is now willing to pick up about $8MM or $9MM on the tab. The Panthers, meanwhile, were hoping Cleveland would pick up about $13MM of Mayfield’s salary. It’s uncertain if Seattle would have similar interest in such an arrangement, but it’s pretty clear that the Browns will have to eat some of the Mayfield’s salary if they hope to pull off a trade.

Mayfield is currently set to play 2022 on his fifth-year option. Thanks to some offset language in that deal, the Browns could end up owing up to $17MM if they simply cut the QB.

Browns Willing To Pay Half Of Baker Mayfield’s Salary To Facilitate Trade?

When the Browns and Panthers held trade talks regarding Baker Mayfield during the draft, the AFC North team was not believed to be willing to pay much of its former starting quarterback’s salary to move him. Cleveland may be coming around.

The teams picked up talks recently, and the Browns are now prepared to pay more of Mayfield’s fully guaranteed $18.9MM salary to facilitate a deal. The team has moved to the $9-$10MM range, Albert Breer of SI.com said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link). This still does not meet the Panthers’ asking price, Breer adds. It is unclear where the sides are on draft compensation, but rumblings continue to emerge about Mayfield finally changing teams.

[RELATED: Browns Not Targeting Mayfield-For-Sam Darnold Swap]

During the teams’ draft talks, the Browns were not far beyond the $3MM mark here. Carolina was believed to want Cleveland to pick up at least $13MM of Mayfield’s salary to sign off on a deal, creating an impasse that led to Mayfield-to-Charlotte buzz cooling. By not reaching the Panthers’ price point, the Browns are betting on the Panthers — they of a quarterback room headlined by Darnold and Matt Corral — meeting their terms to ensure a better QB1 option arrives weeks ahead of training camp. Urgency has surfaced on Carolina’s side, though Matt Rhule said that was not the case. The game of chicken persists.

The Panthers (and Seahawks) can continue to force the Browns to carry Mayfield’s salary on their books, but Cleveland — thanks in part to structuring Deshaun Watson‘s contract in a way to minimize the financial penalty the embattled QB would endure if/when suspended — has a gargantuan cap-space lead on the rest of the NFL. As of Monday afternoon, the Browns hold more than $42MM in cap space. No other team possesses $26MM.

If the Browns cut Mayfield, they could end up owing more than $17MM — thanks to offset language in his rookie deal. Although some executives expect the Browns to finally cut bait, they have maintained throughout the offseason that will not happen. By going through minicamp with their oft-scrutinized QB setups, the Panthers and Seahawks gained extended looks at their in-house options. But Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo, whose March shoulder surgery clouds his trade market until at least July, remain available. As long as that is the case, Carolina and Seattle’s QB situations will continue to generate attention.

Browns Not Expected To Target Sam Darnold In Baker Mayfield Trade

With the Browns and Panthers haggling over how Baker Mayfield‘s 2022 salary will be paid, Cleveland taking back one of Carolina’s quarterbacks in a deal would not seem in step with these negotiations. But Deshaun Watson‘s status may point to the Browns looking around at emergency QB options, considering Mayfield is out of the picture for such a role.

Sam Darnold is not expected to be on such a list, and as of now, the Browns are not preparing to chase a QB upgrade as part of a Watson contingency plan. A Mayfield-for-Darnold swap is not believed to be on the Browns’ radar, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, who adds the AFC North team is confident in offseason addition Jacoby Brissett.

Carolina and Cleveland have picked up talks on Mayfield recently, with the NFC South squad displaying some urgency here. If Mayfield finally does end up being traded, the acquiring team would be wise to do it soon for the purposes of the relocating quarterback immersing himself in his new team’s playbook ahead of training camp.

Matt Rhule said a trade weeks in advance of camp is not essential to a QB learning Ben McAdoo‘s playbook, but the more time Mayfield would have with Carolina’s system, the better off he would be. Illustrating money’s impact in these talks, the Panthers would have hoped to acquire Mayfield before or during minicamp for acclimation purposes, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

Like Mayfield, Darnold is tied to a fifth-year option salary of $18.9MM. As 2018 draftees, Mayfield and Darnold are part of the first class to have their fifth-year options fully guaranteed. While trade-value purposes should be considered here, Rhule is believed to be warming to another Darnold season. Given the efforts the Panthers have made to acquire a better QB over the past two years, that would be quite the development. Mayfield would seemingly be a better option, his inconsistency notwithstanding, but his former draft classmate has been prepping in McAdoo’s system for five months.

The Browns were linked to Darnold ahead of the 2018 draft; Mayfield emerged late in the process. The two passers’ work to date suggests then-GM John Dorsey made the right decision, but Darnold — who is two years younger, at 25 — has been stationed behind below-average offensive lines throughout his career. Mayfield enjoyed a top-tier line during the second half of his Cleveland run. Darnold has not shown what Mayfield has during the latter’s highpoints, but with a new-look Panther O-line and a quality set of skill-position players, this might be the USC product’s best chance of putting together a decent season.

Signed to a one-year, $4.65MM deal this offseason, Brissett replaced Case Keenum as the Browns’ backup. The frequent fill-in starter stands to be a pivotal figure in the Browns’ season. With a lengthy Watson suspension expected, the former Patriots, Colts and Dolphins QB will be on track to make several starts for a Browns team that has seen its preferred starter encounter additional turmoil since the divisive blockbuster trade occurred.

Browns, Panthers Remain In Discussions On Baker Mayfield

As the Browns and Panthers’ salary viewpoints diverged considerably during the draft, the teams’ Baker Mayfield talks broke down. Carolina traded into the third round for Matt Corral. Matt Rhule is warming up to the idea a Corral-Sam Darnold competition will be enough for this year’s Panthers edition, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

But Mayfield is still generating support from some inside the NFC South squad’s building, Person adds. This has reached the point where the Panthers have resumed discussions with the Browns on a trade for the fifth-year quarterback, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports tweets.

Both teams begin minicamp Tuesday. Rhule said last week the Panthers would evaluate their quarterback position after minicamp but indicated a free agent at any position would not need to be acquired too long before training camp to pick up new OC Ben McAdoo‘s system. Days later, some semblance of urgency exists on the Panthers’ side on the Mayfield front, Jones adds (via Twitter). This stance would make sense, with Mayfield having a better chance to bounce back in Carolina with additional time to learn McAdoo’s offense ahead of training camp.

The Panthers having checked in on Russell Wilson and aggressively pursued Deshaun Watson — a year after making a strong offer for Matthew Stafford — makes the prospect of running it back with Darnold (31st in 2021 QBR) tough to buy. But Rhule has bolted on the team’s previous starter (Cam Newton, Teddy Bridgewater) in each of his first two offseasons. And the team did make upgrades along its offensive line, which would stand to aid Darnold in his second Panthers slate. But, through four seasons, Mayfield has been a far more viable starter than Darnold. For a coach on one of the NFL’s hottest seats, adding a quarterback at a much cheaper cost than it took to land Bridgewater or Darnold would seemingly check out.

The Browns have waited for the Panthers’ Darnold-Corral competition to induce them to return to the Mayfield table, but money still divides the teams sitting first and second in cap space. During the draft, the Browns were barely prepared to pay $3MM of Mayfield’s $18.9MM fully guaranteed salary. The Panthers wanted them to pick up at least $13MM. Cleveland appears to have moved closer to the latter figure, and the more the AFC North team pays, the better the draft compensation would be. Still, Carolina should not be expected to give up much for Mayfield.

The Browns would be stuck with nearly the full salary if they release Mayfield, which has long been a non-starter. The Seahawks have been monitoring this situation for months, but lately, the only Seattle-Mayfield connections pertain to a potential release. The latest reports of Panthers-Browns talks could motivate the Seahawks — amid a Geno SmithDrew Lock QB competition — to reconsider their trade stance. For now, Carolina remains the frontrunner for Mayfield.

Door Still Open For Panthers QB Addition

Matt Rhule praised Sam Darnold‘s work at the Panthers’ latest OTA session, and exiting the team’s offseason program, the former No. 3 overall pick remains on track to be Carolina’s starting quarterback. But Rhule said the team is keeping the door open for an addition to this rather important position group, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets.

As teams do following minicamp, the Panthers will assess their roster to determine spots where veterans would provide needed assistance. While it would seem time is running out to bring in someone like Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo and expect the newcomer to be proficient in Ben McAdoo‘s offense by September, Rhule said (via Person, on Twitter) an addition just before training camp would give a new player sufficient preparation time.

A trade or free agent signing just before camp would be asking a lot from a veteran quarterback, who would be well behind Darnold in the new offensive coordinator’s system. But the Panthers have been the only known team to enter into substantive negotiations with the Browns for Mayfield. Those talks, though, were not believed to have gone far.

A previous report indicated the Browns were willing to pay “a good chunk” of Mayfield’s fully guaranteed $18.9MM salary, but Person indicates differently, noting Cleveland was willing to pick up barely $3MM of Mayfield’s contract (subscription required). Unsurprisingly, those negotiations broke down, leading the Panthers to Matt Corral in Round 3. The Panthers are believed to want the Browns to pay at least $13MM of that money, leading to this staredown — one in which the Browns hope the Panthers balk at another Darnold season while Carolina envisions Cleveland cutting its four-year starter. Perhaps the Browns have budged a bit since the teams’ mid-draft talks, but this certainly is a sizable financial gulf. These two teams are also first and second in terms of cap space.

Various NFL staffers expect the Browns and 49ers to each cut their trade block-stationed QBs, per ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano, who adds a straw poll among those execs placed Mayfield as more likely to be Seattle-bound and Garoppolo to head to North Carolina. That would be understandable, with the flipside of this scenario potentially involving an intra-NFC West trade. The Seahawks are also interested in Mayfield as a free agent.

The 49ers have more of a timetable here, with Garoppolo’s $24.2MM salary nonguaranteed until the regular season starts. After that date, Garoppolo’s vested-veteran status locks in that figure, putting some pressure on San Francisco to either carry the salary or cut bait come September. Mayfield’s money is already guaranteed, giving the Browns the option hold onto him into the regular season. It will be interesting to see how the ex-Heisman winner proceeds to prevent such a scenario. Mayfield’s January surgery on his non-throwing shoulder has not been an issue for teams, per Graziano, whereas Garoppolo’s March procedure on his right shoulder hijacked the 49ers’ trade effort.

Carolina, which checked on Russell Wilson and met with Deshaun Watson, saw Darnold rank 29th in QBR last season. Though a healthier Christian McCaffrey and the improved offensive line the Panthers should have may change the fifth-year passer’s outlook, it would still seem a gamble for Rhule to tie his hot seat to Darnold for a second season.

Browns To Excuse Baker Mayfield From Minicamp

The Browns are scheduled to begin their minicamp June 14. Deshaun Watson is on track to participate with his new team, but the Browns ensured Wednesday their previous starting quarterback will not.

Baker Mayfield will be excused from Cleveland’s minicamp, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot tweets, describing this as a mutual decision. The parties decided this will be the best course of action, one that will prevent Mayfield from being fined for his absence and stop further distractions — amid a slew of quarterback-related turmoil for the Browns — from taking place.

[RELATED: Which Team Will Acquire Mayfield?]

This comes shortly after the 49ers excused Jimmy Garoppolo from their minicamp. Garoppolo still has a chance to return to the 49ers, despite the team preferring to trade its four-plus-year starter. Mayfield, who requested a trade in March, is almost certainly done with the Browns. Wednesday’s decision offers further evidence its four-year starter will move on, regardless of Watson’s status.

Mayfield has been away from the Browns for an extended stretch, having made his trade request just before the team’s trade for Watson and shocking financial commitment. The Browns have engaged in trade talks with the Panthers, and the former No. 1 overall pick has been linked to the Seahawks. Neither NFC team has blinked, even with both having questionable-at-best quarterback situations. At least, that is where the Panthers and Seahawks stand presently. Things could change if those teams determine Mayfield is a necessary upgrade, but the holding pattern has persisted for several weeks. The Browns will need to pick up almost all of Mayfield’s $18.9MM fifth-year option salary; they are willing to pay a sizable chunk of it.

Cleveland cutting Mayfield would save little, since he could sign with Carolina or Seattle for the league minimum (due to offset language) and stick the Browns with $17MM-plus in dead money. The Browns have Jacoby Brissett positioned as Watson insurance. With lawsuits continuing to pile up against the Pro Bowl passer, a lengthy Brissett stretch seems certain for the 2022 Browns. Mayfield should be expected to be with another team by the time a (presumably) Brissett-quarterbacked Cleveland squad debuts.

For now, the disgruntled QB will finish his shoulder rehab away from the Browns. Mayfield is expected to be ready for full participation in training camp.

Browns Will Not Release Baker Mayfield

The Browns have no intentions of cutting quarterback Baker Mayfield, a league source tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. So if clubs like the Seahawks or Panthers want to acquire the former No. 1 overall pick, they will have to trade for him.

We heard earlier this month that Mayfield suitors believe Cleveland will ultimately release the former No. 1 overall pick, and there are two reasons for that thinking: 1) the Browns and their would-be trade partners have not been able to agree on how much of Mayfield’s $18.9MM salary for 2022 the Browns will cover, and 2) the Browns would rather cut Mayfield than keep him and risk a toxic locker room culture.

It could be that Cabot’s report was based on information leaked by a Browns front office eager to swing a trade and resolve the Mayfield situation, and that a Mayfield release actually remains an option. But from a purely financial perspective, there is no real reason for Cleveland to take any action until it receives a trade offer to its liking. Even with Mayfield’s full cap charge on the books, the team has just shy of $25MM in cap space, good for second-most in the league.

And, in order to avoid a distraction, the club and Mayfield can work out an arrangement much like the one the Texans had with new Browns QB Deshaun Watson last year, whereby Mayfield either works out at the team facility — but not alongside Watson and fellow signal-caller Jacoby Brissett — or simply gets his work in away from the team. Since Mayfield will not take another snap for the Browns, as Cabot confirms in a separate piece, it really wouldn’t matter either way.

In her breakdown of the Mayfield affair, Cabot cites a recent report from Jonathan M. Alexander of the Charlotte Observer, who wrote that trade talks between the Panthers and Browns broke down during last month’s draft because Carolina wanted Cleveland to pay $13MM-$14MM of Mayfield’s salary, something that Cleveland wasn’t willing to do (we had previously written that the salary divide was the reason that the discussions stalled, but we did not have the specific numbers). But the Panthers actually have more cap space than the Browns, and perhaps an even bigger issue than the financial consideration is the fact that Carolina simply does not have an organizational consensus on Mayfield at the moment.

If, as the summer unfolds, it becomes clear that Mayfield would be an upgrade over Panthers QBs Sam Darnold and third-round rookie Matt Corral, Carolina could revisit trade discussions, though that is far from a sure thing. And the Seahawks, the other team that has been most connected to Mayfield, recently bid adieu to one of Mayfield’s biggest supporters, Alonzo Highsmith, the former Browns exec who had been working as an advisor to Seattle GM John Schenider and who just accepted a job as General Manager of Football Operations for the University of Miami.

Cabot says, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times confirms (via Twitter), that the Seahawks would be interested in Mayfield if he is cut, but it does not sound like Schneider will be engaging in trade discussions at this point. And if Carolina and Seattle are both out of the trade picture, then Browns GM Andrew Berry will just have to wait until another club faces an injury or underperformance, even if that wait takes him to the trade deadline.

Apparently, that suits Berry just fine.

Latest On Browns, Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is not planning to show for Browns OTAs, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Browns are surely fine with this, given the distraction their former starting quarterback could cause alongside their new one. Cleveland’s OTAs begin Tuesday.

The team has hung onto Deshaun Watson‘s disgruntled predecessor two months after his trade request surfaced, and Panthers and Seahawks interest has not reached the point where the NFC teams are satisfied with how much the Browns are willing to pay to move Mayfield off their roster. Cleveland has, however, expressed a willingness to pay a “good chunk” of Mayfield’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option salary ($18.9MM), Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

A game of chicken may well be taking place between the Browns and the NFC teams, whose quarterback depth charts have drawn consistent scrutiny. Carolina came closest to acquiring Mayfield, entering into trade talks with Cleveland, but it is rolling out a Sam DarnoldMatt Corral competition. Seattle is going with a Drew LockGeno Smith setup. Neither group inspires at this point, and the Browns may be betting one of the NFC teams agrees to their terms to finally upgrade at the game’s top position. But the chance the Seahawks or Panthers could land Mayfield for the league minimum exists. That has not enticed either to trade a low-level draft asset for the former No. 1 overall pick.

Because offset language exists in Mayfield’s rookie contract, he would not be able to double dip in salary this year. But if the Browns release him, the former Heisman winner could stick his old team with a $17MM-plus bill by signing for the league minimum ($1.1MM). As such, the Panthers or Seahawks agreeing to pay even a third of Mayfield’s current $18.9MM salary would mean decent savings for the Browns.

OTAs and minicamp could play a major role in how the Panthers and Seahawks proceed, as a healthy version of Mayfield would stand to be an improvement for both teams. Mayfield’s health and the presence of fellow trade-block resident Jimmy Garoppolo still impacts this saga as well. Seattle’s minicamp is scheduled to wrap up June 9; Carolina’s is slated to conclude its offseason program June 16. If neither team blinks, the Browns — who are likely to excuse Mayfield from their mandatory minicamp — will be forced into a decision ahead of training camp. Mayfield is expected to be ready for full participation, following his January shoulder surgery, by training camp, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes.