The truth about Seattle’s interest in Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield remains unclear, and that’s exactly what the Seahawks and/or the Browns want.
On Tuesday afternoon, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said the Seahawks were never very interested in Baker Mayfield. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, who recently reported that the Seahawks still have one, came forward Tuesday night great interest in Mayfieldcriticized the characterization of Rapoport, calling it “inaccurate.”
If the Seahawks are interested, they do a great job of preventing it from becoming as obvious as, say, the Panthers’ interest in Mayfield. Carolina and Cleveland had trade talks during the draft. Negotiations fell through over the respective portions of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary that the Browns and Panthers would pay. More recent reports indicated interest isn’t dead, even after the Panthers pulled the plug and picked Matt Corral during the draft.
Seattle, which for months did its best to mislead everyone about whether Russell Wilson would be traded, may be doing the same here, working to give the impression that they aren’t interested despite upgrading Geno Smith and the US Open are interested in their new favorite punching bag, Drew Lock. Keeping it quiet makes sense for a number of reasons. They want to get Mayfield as cheaply as possible, both in terms of draft picks and compensation. With no one else ready to pull the trigger and the odds of the Browns and Mayfield coexisting somewhere south of slim and zero, the Browns need two viable suitors to get the best deal possible.
Over the weekend we tried to identify the entire universe of teams that could or should be interested in Mayfield as a better option to the best they currently have at the top of the depth chart. Including the Browns, who should be keen to keep Mayfield if they lose Deshaun Watson for the full season, at least 11 teams should be thinking about it.
It is a combination of chess, checkers and chicken. Someone will eventually make the move. The Seahawks may simply be waiting for the right time to do so while maintaining a plausible denial should it not happen. In their first season after Russ, they can’t afford to appear like they don’t believe in Smith or Lock if they can’t get Mayfield. But they still don’t want Mayfield that bad to just get it done and move on.
Something has to happen just before the start of the training camp. Mayfield doesn’t seem inclined to take an excused absence from camp while the Browns wait for a quarterback to get injured and someone to spit out a first-round pick and more like the Vikings did for Sam Bradford in 2016 and Teddy Bridgewater was Suddenly lost for the season at the end of August. Mayfield wants to make it so he can start learning a new offense and a new team and a new coaching staff and a new whole to have the kind of season that sets him up for a new contract.
Will it be Seattle? Will it be another team that has spent the time studying feature films and OTA tapes wondering if Mayfield is giving them a better chance of winning as many games as possible in 2022?
It can happen anytime. It has to happen soon, or an awkward situation between the Browns and Mayfield could turn downright acrimonious.
The Seahawks could count on that. That the Browns will cut and run to avoid another distraction in an offseason with more than a few of them.
Regardless, if anyone else really believes in Mayfield, and if Mayfield is all in with that team, they should just go ahead and do it. When it works, the extra stuff they have to give away as trade compensation or salary doesn’t matter. If they wait too long, it becomes harder to get it to work – and they may not get it at all.
Yes, Detroit Lions, I’m speaking to you directly.