CLEVELAND, Ohio — If the Panthers and Seahawks are waiting for the Browns to cut Baker Mayfield so they can get him on the cheap, they better not hold their breath.
The Browns have no plans to cut Mayfield, even if he’s still on the roster at the start of training camp in July, a league source tells cleveland.com.
With Mayfield under contract for a fully-guaranteed $18.86 million, it makes no sense for the Browns to cut him and take the entire hit. They’ll subtract whatever he makes from his next team from that amount, but it wouldn’t make much of a dent.
The Browns would be better off hanging onto Mayfield and seeing if a team is willing to take a sizable chunk of that salary off their hands in the event of a QB injury before the trade deadline, or the realization that their starter is not cutting it .
The Charlotte Observer reported this week that trade talks between the Browns and Panthers during draft weekend fell through because the Panthers wanted the Browns to pay $13 million to $14 million of Mayfield’s salary. But there are many ways to structure the trade, and if the Panthers remain interested, the two sides can find a way to get it done. The draft pick compensation will be directly tied to the amount of the salary picked up.
The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be organizational consensus in Carolina over Mayfield. Some are much higher on him than others, which has been an issue, a source said. If they were all on the same page and all in, they could have him on the roster in time for their mandatory minicamp June 14-16 — same as the Browns.
The Panthers might also become more interested in Mayfield as their OTAs progress and they get a better handle on Sam Darnold and rookie Matt Corral. They’ve left the door open to acquiring another veteran, and haven’t slammed it shut on Mayfield.
As for the Seahawks, one of Mayfield’s biggest advocates in the building, former Browns personnel exec Alonzo Highsmith, left Seattle last week to take over as General Manager of Football Operations for the University of Miami, his alma mater. Highsmith was Senior Executive Advisor to Seahawks GM John Schneider. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Seahawks are less interested in Mayfield, but they also don’t want to pay much of the $18.86 million. One source told cleveland.com that the Seahawks, who have Geno Smith and Drew Lock on their roster, would sign Mayfield if the Browns cut him.
Other teams could get interested as the offseason goes along, but there’s nothing imminent, and the Browns aren’t sweating it. They have the second-most cap space in the NFL ($24,757 million) behind the Panthers ($25,063 million) and can afford to keep him on the roster.
The Browns and Mayfield can work out a plan if he sticks around
A source told Cleveland.com last week that no decision has been made yet on whether or not Mayfield will attend Browns mandatory minicamp if he’s still on the team. If he skips, it will cost him about $95,000 for the three days.
But the Browns and Mayfield’s camp can work together on a plan that works for both sides if he’s still for the start of training camp in late July. One strategy would be for Mayfield to work out at the Browns facility, but mostly on his own, and not alongside Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett.
With Watson’s legal situation and looming possible suspension, the Browns don’t need the added distraction of Mayfield’s presence. Such an arrangement would be similar to what the Texans did last year with Watson. They initirally had him working out with the team, even having him work out some at safety at one point, but it presented such a distraction each day to the players and in the media that they soon mostly sequestered him from the rest of the team.
Another option would be for Mayfield to continue to work out and rehab away from the Browns facility, but it seems more likely that he’d be in Berea for treatment, conditioning and workouts. Of course, everyone is hoping it doesn’t come to that, and it’s highly unlikely Mayfield will take another snap for the Browns.
Browns thrilled to have Jadeveon Clowney in the house
The Browns were happy to get Clowney wrapped up last week to his one-year deal worth $10 million, with another $1 million in incentives. The deal includes an $8 million signing bonus and $9.25 million guaranteed. It includes $750,000 in likely-to-be-made incentives worth just over $44,000 per game up to 14.
At practice on Wednesday, Clowney got re-acquainted with his teammates and introduced himself to the rookies. He held court on the sidelines with the younger guys, who look up to him.
“I’m super excited,” cornerback Greg Newsome II said. “It makes my job easier so I’m super excited that he’s back. He has an aura about him too, he’s a big energetic guy. I would say he’s kind of like the big brother but you’re able to relate to him as he relates to as well so definitely excited to have him back and he was definitely great for us last year and he’s looking to do even better things this season.”
Newsome never doubted Clowney would be back.
“Especially when we got Deshaun [Watson],” he said. “You put the pieces together and things like that and just how successful he played last season playing alongside Myles Garrett. And he sees what we’re trying to build here and I think everyone sees it and that kind of shows you that he knows that we have something special on this team so he wanted to be a part of it.”
At the. 2 receiver not on the horizon
The Browns are not one of the two teams besides the Colts having ‘fruitful’ discussions for receiver TY Hilton, a source told cleveland.com. Stephen Holder of The Athletic reported last week that there are two other teams in the mix without naming them.
The Browns are happy with their receiving corps even though Amari Cooper is their only proven veteran, and don’t feel compelled to add a bona fide No. 2 just for the sake of it.
Likewise, former Texans receiver Will Fuller is not currently on the radar, even though a source told cleveland.com he’d love to come here and play with Watson. Second-year pro Anthony Schwartz, who still has plenty to prove, has similar speed and skills, and the Browns are hoping he can fulfill some of those downfield duties.
With tight ends David Njoku and Harrison Bryant set to get plenty of reps this season, the Browns feel they have enough veteran pass-catchers on the roster.
Jack Conklin Coming Along Well
Right tackle Jack Conklin, coming off surgery to repair a torn patella, is coming along well and should be ready to practice at the start of training camp in late July. He might be limited early on, but he’s on schedule and is still expected to be ready to start the season.
Currently, he’s rehabbing on his own and not participating in OTAs, and probably won’t be on the field for the mandatory minicamp June 14-16.
Kareem Hunt is in the plans
Even with the surplus of running backs on the roster, Kareem Hunt is still very much in the Browns plans for this season. Heading into the final year of his contract at a maximum of $6.25 million, Hunt is viewed as a valuable member of the offense.
The Browns and Hunt haven’t engaged in substantive extension talks, but he’s not in jeopardy of being the odd man out. During OTAs on Wednesday, Hunt and Nick Chubb appeared on the field together on several occasions, and the offense could feature them together more this season.
New Assistant GM Catherine Raiche is in town and on the job
Browns new assistant GM Catherine Raiche is already at team headquarters in Berea working in her new capacity and attended OTAs last week. The Browns haven’t made the formal announcement yet because they’re waiting to announce their personnel changes at once, including Vice President of Player Personnel Glenn Cook adding the title of Assistant GM to his current duties. The two assistant GMs will have some overlap in their duties, but Cook helps oversee the scouting side and Raiche, the No. 2 behind GM Andrew Berry, the contract and business side.
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ORANGE AND BROWN TALK
AND THE NORMAL AFFILIATE LINKS
Thinking about Clowney, Mayfield and OTAs: Pluto
Harris ready for center role in Cleveland’s offense
Njoku, Browns agree on 4-year contract extension
Grant is here to supercharge the return game
What Clowney’s signing says about the Mayfield approach: Pluto podcast
Browns players have nerdy fun in ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ charity event
Isaiah Thomas has ability worthy of a draft pick: Film review
Watson impressions, other OTA thoughts: Podcast
Newsome: ‘Our goal is to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL’
How Watson, Bauer investigations are handled by NFL/MLB: Podcast
Stefanski’s hoop a hit with team
Watson winning over teammates at OTAs