Rumors of where Cleveland Browns former first-round pick, Baker Mayfield, will land are starting back up.
While two teams are the leading candidates for Mayfield, only one team stands out.
That team is the Carolina Panthers.
They were one of many teams trying to court Deshaun Watson before he approved a trade with the Browns.
Now, the team might want Mayfield after losing out on Watson.
However, the Panthers are in trouble if they decide to trade for him.
This is because of the contracts of both Mayfield and Sam Darnold, the Panthers current quarterback.
The amount the Panthers would need to pay both players would hurt their chances of landing additional players.
$37.6 Million For Two Quarterbacks Is Too Much
Both Mayfield and Darnold have a $18.8 million salary for 2022.
RE Baker Mayfield: The former No. 1 overall pick is among the QB options for the Panthers, but he's not the only guy on the list. There's also the issue of Mayfield's $18.8M salary (same as Sam Darnold's). Browns would have to help. Happy Easter.
— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 17, 2022
Spending $38.6 million on these two quarterbacks is too much for Carolina.
They would have to trade or release Darnold.
However, they have a fifth-year option with Darnold they already picked up.
That means his $18.8 million is fully guaranteed and an albatross around the neck of the Panthers.
The same can be said for Mayfield, whose contract keeps teams away from a trade deal with Cleveland.
It would require either the Browns taking a blow with Mayfield’s contract, or the Panthers trying to rework Darnold’s deal
However, doing so might prove difficult.
Browns Can’t Afford Dead Cap Space After Watson Signing
After the Browns traded for Watson, they signed him to a new five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract.
New #Browns QB Deshaun Watson has passed his physical and will sign his 5-year, $230M contract today. At 1 pm, Cleveland will introduce Watson in a press conference also featuring coach Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 25, 2022
With his new contract, trading Mayfield with his $18.8 contract makes sense.
However, that price tag is too much for most NFL teams, given the play of Mayfield last season.
If the Browns want to trade him, any team asking for him would want the Browns to pay some of that contracted money.
This would leave the team with dead cap space, money spent on a player that isn’t on the team.
It would be something the Browns want to avoid when dealing Mayfield to another team.
However, they might have to bite the bullet on it if they are serious about a trade deal.
Why Would Darnold Rework His Contract Knowing He’s Being Replaced?
On the Panthers side of the story, Darnold most likely won’t rework his contract.
If he doesn’t, who would blame him?
The deal would only benefit his replacement, as the Panthers try to move on from Darnold.
Asking him to take a pay cut while getting demoted to back up seems highly unlikely.
It also hurts any trade deal Carolina might entertain with Cleveland.
That puts the Panthers at the mercy of Darnold with any moves they make regarding him.
No team will trade for him with the $18.8 million he would get.
There are better quarterbacks for less money in the NFL.
The Clear Choice For The Panthers Is Sticking With Darnold
This now means the Panthers best choice is sticking with Darnold in the 2022 NFL season.
All roads lead to the team ultimately making that decision.
Because having both Darnold and Mayfield on the roster costs the team too much money.