Four years after the Browns made him the No. 1 overall draft pick, Baker Mayfield is preparing to play elsewhere. Amid Cleveland's pursuit of embattled Texans star Deshaun Watson this offseason, Mayfield began talking like he'd played his last game for the Browns and, ultimately, requested a trade. Now, with Watson officially in Cleveland as the team's polarizing blockbuster addition under center, it's only a matter of time until Mayfield will be dealt.
Trading the former No. 1 pick would save the Browns an instant $18.8 million, assuming the acquiring team absorbs his entire contract. He might not fetch premium compensation considering how many other teams have already filled QB holes, even if his resume isn't bad as a whole: Mayfield's numbers suggest he's a middle-of-the-pack QB, and a solid 2022 may allow him to command a lucrative long-term deal, but he's also young (26) with lots of starting experience, including during a playoff run, and appropriately priced on the final year of his deal.
Which teams, however, might actually be interested? Here are four potential suitors:
4. Detroit Lions
Yes, they already have Jared Goff, their own former No. 1 pick-turned-castoff holding down the fort at QB until a better one arrives. But Mayfield is younger, cheaper and, arguably, more resilient under center -- a tough-guy fit for coach Dan Campbell. They can save $10M by designating Goff a post-June 1 release. And senior executive John Dorsey was the Browns' general manager when Mayfield went No. 1 overall. His arrival wouldn't preclude them from addressing QB in the draft.
3. Houston Texans
The Texans would likely prefer to just roll with 2021 third-rounder Davis Mills and/or a cheaper insurance plan. But Mayfield would at least give new coach Lovie Smith veteran competition for Mills, if not a potential long-term successor, now that Watson is finally on his way out of the building.
2. Carolina Panthers
They were seemingly all in on Watson, a perceived cure-all to their slew of QB misfires since Matt Rhule's arrival. It stands to reason, now that they didn't get the big fish, they'll pivot to the draft, where they might be able to buy the current regime more time with a homegrown project. And yet owner David Tepper is perhaps more desperate for a QB than anyone. With over $20M in remaining cap space, they could view Mayfield as a more proven version of the Sam Darnold gamble and still address QB in the draft.
1. Seattle Seahawks
Can't you just envision Pete Carroll talking himself into this? After dealing franchise great Russell Wilson, Seattle has a huge hole under center, no matter how much the team props up throw-in acquisition Drew Lock. With over $20M in remaining cap space, they could easily take a one-year flyer on Mayfield, giving themselves a decent point guard for Carroll's run-heavy approach, then reassess in 2023. Baker's arrival wouldn't preclude them from drafting a QB early, either.