We love it when a guy bets on himself. If he wins, we can applaud him. If he loses, it’s not our money.
Soon-to-be-former Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield made a huge bet on himself to facilitate a trade from Cleveland. He would have made $19.9 million with the Browns, fully guaranteed. He gave up $4.6 million as part of the negotiations that culminated in the trade.
While $15.3 million is nothing to sneeze at, he gave up $4.6 million ($3.5 million plus the 17th game check of $1.1 million) in order to lay the foundation for a major free-agent deal in March. Now, he could end up being a free agent for very different reasons.
His $15.3 million compensation package was structured to include a base salary of $4.858 million. If someone claims his contract, they’ll owe him $1.349 million over the rest of the season.
Some presume the 49ers will do it. The contrary argument is that rookie Brock Purdy knows the system well, he’s much cheaper, and he did very well on Sunday, with no advance notice that he’d be playing.
Others could take a waiver-claim flier under the argument that you should never turn down a chance to evaluate a potential franchise quarterback. The Raiders and Patriots come to mind, given that the Patriots (when Raiders coach Josh McDaniels was on the staff) had a fascination with Mayfield.
For any team that would claim, and land, the contract, they’d have more than a month to get to know him — along with exclusive negotiating rights until March.
If Mayfield isn’t claimed, he can collect the balance of his 2022 salary from the Panthers and then sign with any team he wants, while keeping both checks. (It’s possible that he agreed to waive termination pay, however, in order to secure his release from the Panthers.)
Regardless, it’s clear that Mayfield should have refused to give up a penny to pave the way for a trade to the Panthers. He bet on himself. And the bet has gone belly up, with $4.6 million gone — and never coming back.