But for the fact that the Browns didn’t burn but erased their bridge with Baker Mayfield, they would have a quick and easy replacement for Deshaun Watson, should he be suspended for the full year of 2022. However, the Browns managed to completely alienate Mayfield. , who surely won’t be inclined to return to the team as a one-year substitute until Watson is available.
So if, as it seems, there is no way to sign Mayfield for one more year in Cleveland, what will the Browns do?
They signed Jacoby Brissett. It’s one thing for him to run the gig for six or eight games. It’s quite another for him to be given the starting position for the entire year.
Some have suggested the Browns should trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. This will be much easier said than done. Garoppolo is expected to earn $25 million this year. The Browns have already divested significant assets for Watson. It would be hard for the Browns to give up more picks for the privilege of paying Garoppolo $25 million.
A three-way trade could make sense, with the Browns sending Baker Mayfield to the Panthers, the Panthers sending a draft pick or two to the 49ers, and the 49ers sending Garoppolo to Cleveland. But the issue of paying Mayfield’s $18.8 million guaranteed salary continues to complicate such conversations.
The best approach for the Browns would be to find a way to persuade Mayfield to return for a year. With Watson (if suspended for one year) having his $1.035 million 2022 salary pushed back to 2023 and his $46 million 2023 salary pushed back to 2024, the Browns could actually offer more money to Mayfield for the coming year. They could also agree not to tag him after the season. It would be the kind of tangible gesture that could persuade Mayfield to return for another year – especially if he realizes (as he should) he’ll have a better chance of positioning himself for a big payday in the open market. he stays put. in an attack he knows, and with skill on both sides of the ball.
It’s a potential win-win for the Browns and Mayfield. Considering everything the Browns have said and done regarding Mayfield, it’s probably too late to get there.