The Browns will move Baker Mayfield, but it may take some time as the quarterback’s $18.85 million guaranteed contract for 2022 looms large over Cleveland’s roster.
The deal is rumored to be keeping the Browns from doing business, as there are major discrepancies in the team’s salary cap.
Depending on where you look, you’ll likely find a different number when trying to uncover how much cap space Cleveland has to work with.
Overthecap.com lists Cleveland’s cap room at $25.725 million. Spotrac.com puts it at $22.036 million. The Players Association site has it at $2.32 million, according to TLOD’s Tony Grossi. If you’re a a Browns fans who’s used to seeing the team win the cap space game every season, that last number will be shocking.
With Mayfield still on the roster, along with Deshaun Watson’s ($10.028) and Jacoby Brissett’s ($4.65 million) respective cap numbers, the Browns have around $33 million tied up in the position.
Things might not be changing soon, either. While rumors keep popping up (Tampa anybody?), The Athletic’s Zac Jackson wrote (subscription required) the Browns need to be prepared to play the long game concerning a trade of Mayfield.
Browns have limited number of trade partners for Mayfield
Jackson concluded that there are a limited number of trade partners right now and in reality, there may just be one: Seattle, and they’re not going to do the Browns any favors by making a move before the draft.
"“The Seahawks almost certainly wouldn’t tip their draft plans by acquiring Mayfield now, so the Browns figure to keep Mayfield — and that cap charge — for at least another month. After the draft, there could be more suitors, and negotiations at that point could include the Browns making concessions that include giving up a draft pick and/or paying part of Mayfield’s guaranteed salary to facilitate a trade.”"
Jackson added the Browns could keep Mayfield on the roster, but away from the team, until a better trade climate opens up during training camp.
I hope the Browns have the fortitude to see this plan through. They’ll get a little cap relief after June 1, when Austin Hooper’s cap number is reduced from $11.25 million to $3.75 million.
They may have enough to room to squeeze Clowney on board, but as for now, business looks to be at a standstill.