Cleveland Browns trade QB Baker Mayfield to Carolina Panthers
Baker Mayfield helped the Cleveland Browns rise from the abyss of the NFL, but the franchise's decision makers became convinced he couldn't quarterback them to the promised land.
On Wednesday, the Browns made their long-awaited split from Mayfield, trading him to the Carolina Panthers.
The Browns will receive a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024 for Mayfield, whom former general manager John Dorsey drafted first overall in 2018 on the heels of Cleveland going a combined 1-31 the previous two seasons. The Browns have also agreed to pay about $10.5 million of Mayfield's $18.885 million deal.
Cleveland will open the upcoming season at Carolina on Sept. 11.
"We want to thank Baker for all his contributions to the Cleveland Browns," Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement Wednesday. "From the moment he was drafted, he gave his all for this organization and this city. With his fierce competitive spirit, he excited the fanbase and accomplished things that no player at his position had done in Cleveland for a very long time."
The franchise's lack of faith in Mayfield contributed to the Browns traveling down a controversial path with Deshaun Watson, the former Houston Texans quarterback who has been accused through the judicial system of sexual misconduct by 26 women during massage appointments. Watson has denied all wrongdoing — a position he reiterated March 25 during his introductory news conference with the Browns.
OPINION:Browns' Baker Mayfield era with final verdict on QB: Too short, too slow, too cocky
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The logical landing spots for Mayfield dwindled March 21 when the Indianapolis Colts traded with the Atlanta Falcons for Matt Ryan, the Falcons agreed to sign Marcus Mariota and the New Orleans Saints struck a deal to re-sign Jameis Winston.
Then the NFL draft passed in late April with trade talks between the Browns and Panthers fizzling.
Those discussions were revisited, and now there is resolution — finally.
Mayfield is just the third quarterback in the NFL common era (since 1967) to become a No. 1 overall pick and last four or fewer seasons with their first team, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The others are JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders, 2007-09) and Jeff George (Indianapolis Colts, 1990-93).