The bridge between Browns and Baker Mayfield has been obliterated. Thursday’s report from Jake Trotter of ESPN.com shows just how bad it has gotten. Even if the Browns need Mayfield due to a lengthy Deshaun Watson suspension, Mayfield seems to be dead set against it.
So what happens next? The Browns hold his rights for 2022. Mayfield holds a ticket to $18.8 million in guaranteed pay. The Browns have nothing to lose by waiting. Mayfield has nothing to gain by delaying the inevitable.
Here’s a simple solution. It’s the same one the Browns and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reached in November. Mayfield reduces his guaranteed pay, and the Browns let him go.
It’s unclear what it would take to strike a deal, if Mayfield would be willing to reduce his salary — and if the Browns would be willing to release him in exchange for taking less.
But it’s worth exploring. Mayfield could make back the difference with another team this year. If he doesn’t, he’ll nevertheless be in position to set himself up for a strong payday in 2023.
It may be far too late for the Browns and Mayfield to agree on anything. The sooner they’d work out a deal like this, the sooner Mayfield could find a new landing spot, with more than enough time to get ready to have a great season in 2022.