News that Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Cleveland has officially ended after the Browns traded the former No. 1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers, pending a physical, swept the NFL world on Wednesday.
Cleveland is receiving a 2024 or 2025 conditional draft pick in the trade. The Browns will reportedly pay $10.5 million of Baker’s salary, while the Panthers will pay an estimated $4.85 million and Mayfield agreed to convert the remainder of his $18.8 million salary into incentives to facilitate the deal.
It will certainly make for an interesting Week 1 when Cleveland plays at Carolina.
On “The Herd,” Colin Cowherd reacted to the Panthers acquiring the 27-year-old signal-caller, saying that the NFC is the best place for Mayfield to be because he “can be the best QB in the division” in the near future.
“The division is really bad. When Brady leaves in a year, Baker could be the best quarterback,” he said. “So that’s the good news. … The [Sam] Darnold thing is a weird dynamic. My guess is Carolina moves Darnold out of town. I think you wanna separate those two. They came in together — not that they don’t get along, but you wanna give Baker the snaps. You don’t wanna be splitting the snaps. Just give Baker the team. … It would give him a better chance to succeed.
“The bad news? The roster mostly stinks. It’s rated 27th in the NFL [and] Cleveland is rated sixth, according to PFF. … It’s not a well-constructed roster as of now. … they feel like a 7-10 team.”
Why Baker Mayfield will excel in Carolina and in the NFC
With the AFC stacked with quarterbacks, hear why Colin Cowherd believes Baker Mayfield “can be the best QB in the division” once Tom Brady leaves.
“When you think of the top quarterbacks in the AFC, regardless of their age … they absolutely are significantly better than Baker. That is not an argument,’ Cowherd continued. “But you go over to Baker’s new conference [and] there’s Brady, gone in a year, and then there’s [Matthew] Stafford, Aaron Rodgers [and] Kyler Murray. All clearly more talented. But after that, Baker can sling it with Kirk Cousins … with Dak [Prescott]. … There are some quarterback messes in the NFC. There are not a lot in the AFC. It’s gonna be much harder over the next five years to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC than it is out of the NFC. And I’m not saying Baker is getting to a Super Bowl, but Baker in the NFC doesn’t feel like a backup.
“There [are] worse places [Mayfield] could have landed. He gets Matt Rhule,” Cowherd added.
Mayfield, Darnold to compete for Panthers’ Week 1 starter vs. Browns
Colin Cowherd breaks down how Baker Mayfield and current Panthers QB Sam Darnold are headed into a fierce competition for the starting gig in Carolina.
Mayfield has completed 61.6% of his passes for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions across four NFL seasons. He led the Browns to their first playoff victory in 26 years during the 2020-21 season while playing through a torn labrum to his non-throwing left shoulder.
Despite relative success in Cleveland, Mayfield’s time with the Browns effectively ended in March when the team traded three first-round selections and six overall to Houston for Deshaun Watson, who is facing a possible NFL suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, and he demanded a trade.
Mayfield — the top overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft — is expected to compete for Carolina’s starting job with Darnold, the No. 3 overall selection in 2018. The Panthers also have Ole Miss product Matt Corral, who they selected in the third round of this year’s draft, on their quarterback depth chart.
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