The Cleveland Browns traded former No.1 overall pick quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday in exchange for a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick.
The teams agreed to split Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary for the 2022 season, with the Panthers paying $4.85 million and the Browns paying $10.5 million, according to ESPN. Mayfield agreed to convert the remainder of his salary into incentives to facilitate the trade, which is not official until the quarterback passes a physical.
Mayfield’s trade comes nearly four months after the Browns acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans in exchange for three first-round selections and six overall draft picks.
The Browns convinced Watson to come to Cleveland with a fully guaranteed five-year $230 million contract.
Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct by two dozen massage therapists in Texas and settled 20 of 24 lawsuits. He faces a possible lengthy NFL suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Mayfield planned to return to the Browns for the 2022 season and play out the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, but after the Watson trade, he demanded a trade.
The quarterback may quickly get the chance to prove to his former team that they made a mistake by giving up on him, as the Panthers host the Browns in Week 1 of the regular season.
The 2017 Heisman winner from Oklahoma did have a difficult 2021 season due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness.
Mayfield threw for just 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions last season. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery after playing much of the season while injured.
The quarterback suffered a completely torn labrum and fraying in his left shoulder in Week 2. Mayfield played through the injury and sustained a fractured humerus bone in Week 6.
He only missed one game due to the fractured humerus bone before continuing to play while wearing a harness to prevent it from repeatedly dislocating. Mayfield also suffered injuries to his left heel, right knee, and groin throughout the season.
Despite the plethora of injuries, Mayfield started all but two games for the Browns. One game he missed was the season finale when the Browns were already eliminated from playoff contention. The team finished with an 8-9 record.
Mayfield’s rough 2021 season was a disappointment after he appeared to solidify himself as Cleveland’s long-term answer at quarterback the prior year.
The quarterback helped lead the Browns as they clinched their first playoff berth since 2002 in 2020, throwing for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.
For the Panthers, this is the second straight offseason they are taking a flyer on a quarterback that was unwanted by his team. A year ago, Carolina traded for Sam Darnold, the No.3 overall pick in the 2018 draft, from the New York Jets. The move backfired, though, as Darnold missed five games due to injury, and the team finished 5-12.
With the acquisition of Mayfield, the Panthers starting quarterback battle will be between the top two quarterbacks selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.