This despite having Mayfield still in the fold but nowhere to go as of yet. With all the QB moves we’ve seen this offseason, it’s highly unlikely the team will get the first-round pick it’s seeking for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick.
Which in turn, has caused many, including FS1 personality Shannon Sharpe to believe that releasing him is the best decision. Sharpe is of the mindset that if Mayfield were cut it wouldn’t be for long, as division rival Pittsburgh would quickly swoop in and grab him.
“It looks like he’s going to get cut,” Sharpe said on “Undisputed.” “I don’t see anyone offering a first-round pick for him. If teams know you have to get rid of him, they aren’t going to give you what you want.”
Sharpe then went on to talk about why no teams are willing to trade for a former No. 1 overall pick just four years after he started his NFL career. In a league where QBs are commanding between $40 million to $50 million per season, Mayfield is set to play under the price tag of $19 million, which is the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
.@ShannonSharpe on how much of a market there is for Baker Mayfield:
"It looks like he's going to get cut. I don't see anyone offering a 1st Round pick for him. If teams know you have to get rid of him, they aren't going to give you what you want." pic.twitter.com/pWGgATaVPu
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) March 23, 2022
Why would the Steelers offer a first-round pick when they know you have to come up off him anyway? To keep him in Cleveland would make for a disastrous situation, although having Mayfield to navigate the offense next season until Watson serves what will probably be an 8-game suspension or so, is probably something the franchise has considered.
Mayfield would almost certainly politely decline.
Steelers Could Pounce If Mayfield Is Indeed Cut
Every day that Mayfield isn’t dealt brings the realization that he may indeed be released. Reports out of Cleveland — although nothing etched in stone — say the Steelers could bring in the talented Mayfield over the three unproven signal callers already in house (Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins). Trubisky has won some games (29-21 career record), but he’s another No. 1 overall who fell short, and most believe Baker has more upside.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer had this to say about the Mayfield ordeal:
“I had somebody tell me today that … the Steelers would pounce on Baker Mayfield if he becomes available. Like, if they cut him, and he’s just out there as a street free agent, they would take him in a minute.”
Going to the Steelers would benefit Mayfield and head coach Mike Tomlin, whose current crop of mediocre signal callers leaves him at high risk of suffering the first losing season of in his 15-year career. Baker is still only 26, and Tomlin is a great, proven head coach. And if Baker needs any more motivation or reality-checking after the $230M they gave Watson, in Pittsburgh he will get an opportunity to exact revenge on his former team while facing them twice a season.
"I'll start with the New York Giants: Baker Mayfield or Daniel Jones? Baker would light up New York City. He would eat up with that team in that division." — @RealSkipBayless pic.twitter.com/Avv4rXpRUh
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) March 22, 2022
With not much traction on the trade front, it’s very possible the Browns will just let Mayfield walk away. The Browns aren’t paying him $19 million to be a backup with Watson set to rake in $46 million. That’s $65 million on QBs spent in one season, not exactly a recipe for success.
Mayfield Was Good In 2020: Not So Much In 2021
In 2020, Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in 19 seasons. They then upset division-rival Pittsburgh on the road before losing at eventual AFC champion Kansas City in a hard-fought game with some very questionable officiating.
That season Baker passed for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. His 95.1 passer rating in 2020 ranked in the NFL’s top 10. Many believed he turned that proverbial corner of being the franchise QB the Browns drafted him to be.
Then came 2021, and from the jump it wasn’t pretty. That passer rating plummeted to 83.1, which is a sign of a quarterback pressing and the game not slowing down for him as it did the prior season. While he did play hurt, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. And most will say if he was hurt or injured he shouldn’t have been on the field.
Mayfield is in his prime. He’s still mobile, can make all the throws (when healthy), and he’s tough as nails, as evidenced by playing the season with the bum shoulder.
The one area he needs to get better in is his maturity, as well as handling being the face of a franchise.
For instance, the letter he and his agent wrote basically removing himself from Cleveland prior to Watson choosing to be traded there was a bit much. Even if the writing was on the wall, you have to handle that better.
There are 31 other teams in the NFL, and if it didn’t work in Cleveland, that’s not the end of the road. Especially for a QB in his prime, just one season removed from his breakout season.