STACY ROST

Why one Browns reporter thinks Seahawks will acquire Baker Mayfield

Mar 25, 2022, 11:24 AM | Updated: 5:25 pm
Seahawks QB Baker Mayfield...
Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns warms during a game against the Baltimore Ravens. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The possibility of a Baker Mayfield trade to the Seahawks remains very much alive according to one Cleveland Browns reporter.

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Zac Jackson of The Athletic joined Jake and Stacy on Seattle Sports Station Thursday to talk about Mayfield’s tenure in Cleveland, what led to the expected split between team and player, and when – not if – he thinks Mayfield could be traded to the Seahawks.

“You could say (he’s being actively shopped around), but right now there’s only one potential suitor and that’s the Seattle Seahawks,” Jackson said about Mayfield’s status. “Could that change after the draft? Yes. There may be a surprise team, it’s the NFL. But right now, doing the math, it looks like the Seahawks are the only realistic suitor for Baker.”

Jackson noted Cleveland would absorb nearly $19 million in dead cap were they to cut Mayfield, which eliminates the possibility of other teams adding him as a free agent and makes it a near certainty that if the Browns are to move on, it’ll be via trade.

And that trade will likely be sooner – this offseason, or shortly after the draft – rather than later. The Browns have found their next starter, making a controversial trade for ex-Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson, and will be looking to unload Mayfield’s contract. They’re also reportedly eager to move on to someone they feel is more mature, and that reported frustration with Mayfield’s immaturity has simultaneously made him a more affordable and a riskier option.

“He’s very prickly, he’s very in your face, he tells you what he thinks,” Jackson explained when asked about Mayfield’s off-the-field persona. While the former No. 1 pick was embraced overall by fans in Cleveland, he’s had a more tenuous relationship with media.

“The chip on the shoulder that carried him this far also becomes exhausting,” Jackson said. “At some point, you’re the No. 1 pick in the draft, you’re not the plucky underdog. At some point you’re a franchise quarterback and you have to act like an adult and be politically correct, rather than be in your face all the time. He needs to sign off social media, he can’t. He needs to tone it down in general, he can’t. Baker Mayfield will be remembered fondly in Cleveland for a long time. He was one of the faces, if not the face, of a Browns turnaround from, statistically, the worst three years in the history of pro football. But the Browns decided that he wasn’t going to be their guy… (and) the Baker Mayfield experience is exhausting. It just is.”

Mayfield’s blunt personality isn’t new, but it’s also accompanied strong play. The former No. 1 overall pick finished his career at Oklahoma ranked second all-time in FBS history in passing efficiency rating.

The roots of his chip-on-the-shoulder mentality make sense, considering he was the first ever walk-on player to win a Heisman trophy. In his first year with Cleveland, he set an NFL record for touchdowns by a rookie quarterback (27; a total later surpassed by Justin Herbert) and by 2020 had led the team to their first playoff victory since 1994.

“He can make every throw,” Jackson said. “He’s won games. He’s way more talented than a lot of guys who hang around this league for a long time. He’s getting traded now for a fifth-round pick because he’s a pain in the ass.”

He’s also been inconsistent and dealt with an injury last season. And while acquiring Mayfield means bringing on a polarizing personality who will have just one year remaining on his rookie deal, there’s also an upside that Jackson thinks the Seahawks recognize.

“I do think they’re going to get him,” Jackson said. “I think there’s no other option. I think it’ll be low cost. I think (Seahawks personnel executive and former Browns vice president of football operations) Alonzo Highsmith’s vote will carry a lot. I think he’s better than Drew Lock – I know he’s better than Drew Lock – so I think after the draft this will go down. I don’t think it’ll go down now because why would the Seahawks tip their hand in the draft? Having the ninth pick, it just makes no sense. I think you’ll see flashes of a quarterback that can win games and potentially be the guy. How does it play out and does he stay healthy? We’ll find out.”

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