From a team standpoint, experts projected the Browns as Super Bowl favorites before the season.
That prediction won’t happen because Cleveland won’t make it to the AFC playoffs.
Personally, injuries may have contributed to Mayfield’s struggles this year.
Baker Mayfield began the season throwing for 321 at KC. Then completed 1st 9 vs Hou, before wrecking his shoulder. NEEDED SURGERY. But played all yr w pain few QBs would have. Once he gets this fixed, he'll make Baker Haters/Odell Lovers look foolish. Celebrate while you can.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 5, 2022
Last season, the former Oklahoma standout completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
In 2021, he played two fewer games but only had a 60.5 completion percentage.
Mayfield also has 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions through Week 17.
His passer rating also regressed from 95.9 to 83.1, while his quarterback rating dropped from 65.5 to 35.3.
#Browns QB Case Keenum on Baker Mayfield's season: I don't want to speak for him. I can only speak for myself and what I saw. I did have a front-row seat to one of the toughest, gutsiest performances of a QB playing through a season that I've ever seen. Battling a lot of things.
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) January 5, 2022
The Browns picked up his fifth-year option worth $18.9 million despite the reduced numbers.
However, that development isn’t a guarantee that he will remain in Cleveland in 2022.
If the team decides to put him on the trading block, these three teams must show interest.
3. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers’ quarterback experiment fizzled as Sam Darnold did not live up to expectations.
Cam Newton’s return brought excitement to the franchise and nothing more.
Carolina will be in the hunt for another quarterback by the offseason, and Mayfield may fit the bill.
The #Panthers are starting Sam Darnold, not Cam Newton on the final game of their season.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 5, 2022
Whether Matt Rhule remains the head coach or not, the Panthers need another quarterback who can manage run-heavy teams.
Mayfield’s experience with the Browns makes him a likely candidate for the role.
But if Cleveland will trade him away, they will want some of the Panthers’ players back, especially on defense.
2. New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints might not see Jameis Winston as their quarterback moving forward.
If that’s the case, New Orleans can initiate a trade for Mayfield.
The Saints will be ideal for Mayfield because the entire team will relieve pressure off him.
— sarah kustok (@sarahkustok) January 3, 2022
Alvin Kamara is a versatile back who can gain yards on the ground and in the air.
Mayfield won’t have the constant pressure of scoring many points because of New Orleans’ defense.
Likewise, head coach Sean Payton had success with different quarterbacks.
If New Orleans initiates a deal, their salary cap will be a huge concern.
They will be $61 million over the cap, with Drew Brees’ restructured deal being a factor.
CJGJ is INCREDIBLE at getting people to break.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 4, 2022
That said, a viable trade package will involve sending two players to the Browns.
Michael Thomas is the likely option to free up cap space for Mayfield.
Such a trade will help them keep pace with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the AFC South.
1. Denver Broncos
Teddy Bridgewater is a serviceable quarterback, but he’s not the guy that will bring the Denver Broncos over the hump.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 2, 2022
However, those quarterbacks will command top dollar.
Mayfield is an excellent option with a lower price tag if the Broncos can’t get either of those two players.
Getting him will give Denver a quarterback they can grow with and flexibility in signing other players to contract extensions.