The Carolina Panthers acquired Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield for a 2024 conditional fifth-round pick, the Panthers announced Wednesday.
The trade, which is pending a physical, will see Mayfield cut $3.5 million off his base salary, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The Browns will pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary this season while the Panthers will owe about $5 million.
However, Mayfield can earn back the lost salary through incentives, a source told Garafolo.
The conditional fifth-rounder in the deal will convert to a fourth-round selection if Mayfield plays 70% of Carolina’s offensive snaps, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.
The Panthers have been considered a likely destination for the former No. 1 overall pick since he requested a trade from the Browns earlier this offseason due to the team’s pursuit of Deshaun Watson. The two clubs reportedly considered a trade during the NFL draft, but it fell apart due to Cleveland’s unwillingness to cover the majority of Mayfield’s contract. The Seattle Seahawks were also rumored to be exploring a deal for Mayfield.
Mayfield was openly critical of the Browns’ quarterback approach following the team’s acquisition of Watson, saying he felt “100%” disrespected. He added last week that there was likely no chance of reconciliation with the club if Watson is suspended.
Mayfield’s departure leaves Jacoby Brissett as the Browns’ main backup behind Watson. The organization is waiting to hear the resolution of a disciplinary hearing for Watson, who still faces four lawsuits alleging he committed sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massage sessions. He settled 20 similar lawsuits in June.
It won’t take Mayfield long to meet his former club as the Panthers host the Browns in Week 1.
The 27-year-old will likely battle 2018 draftmate Sam Darnold for the No. 1 job as Carolina doesn’t plan to move Darnold, a source told ESPN’s David Newton.
Darnold, who was acquired by the Panthers last offseason, didn’t establish a firm grip on the starting role after going 4-7 with nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions in 2021.
Mayfield led the Browns to the postseason in 2020 but was unable to replicate the same success last year after being hampered by injuries. He completed 60.5% of his passes for a career-low 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.