Should the Cleveland Browns Keep or Trade Baker Mayfield?

Devon Platana

The Baker Mayfield Era for the Cleveland Browns hasn’t gone the way they planned when the organization drafted him first overall at the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Browns have only been to the playoffs once during his tenure as the team’s starting quarterback. Overall, he just hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a No. 1 pick. However, that isn’t all his fault considering how Cleveland hasn’t always exactly fielded the best roster around him.

Fast forward to the current offseason and rumors are swirling about Mayfield potentially being traded in the coming weeks. He made a lengthy Twitter post on Tuesday thanking the fans for their support over the years, which ended up sounding like a goodbye letter.

But is trading Mayfield a good idea if the Browns want to compete for a Super Bowl this season? After all, it isn’t exactly like the quarterback market is crawling with options this year.

Nevertheless, here’s a look at whether keeping or trading Mayfield will be the best move for the Browns’ chances of success in 2022.

Argument for Keeping Mayfield

Although Mayfield hasn’t yielded the results that the organization and fans have hoped for, it isn’t like he’s been an awful quarterback. In fact, he’s improved his game over the last few seasons.

Mayfield has completed 61.9% of his passes in his last 30 games for 6,632 passing yards, 44 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and a 90.9 passer rating. For reference, while he had more passing yards in his first 30 games (7,552), he had a 61.5% completion rating in that span while throwing 49 TDs to an abysmal 35 interceptions on a 85.9 passer rating.

Some fans may have been underwhelmed with his 2021 campaign, however, it’s important to point out that he was injured throughout the season. Mayfield dealt with a torn labrum right from the start of the year and even though the injury wasn’t to his throwing arm, it still hampered what he could do.

It’s also important to point out that Mayfield will only be 27 years old but the time the 2022 NFL season starts. It isn’t unfathomable that he can bounce back in the upcoming campaign, especially with Nick Chubb and newly-acquired wideout Amari Cooper at his disposal.

The former Oklahoma product is also worth keeping because his connection to the city of Cleveland. Few quarterbacks have embraced the city and the franchise as much as Mayfield did when he arrived to town. Despite people constantly making fun of the Browns, he found a home in Cleveland and cares enough about the fanbase to want to be a part of the solution.

Besides, it’s going to be tough for the Browns to find a replacement if they want to remain competitive. Jameis Winston is the best available quarterback in free agency, but there’s no telling if he could put Cleveland over the top as he comes off an ACL tear.

The Browns could explore the trade market and Jimmy Garoppolo is a name that’s available. However, he isn’t that much of an upgrade over Mayfield. There’s also Deshaun Watson, but the Houston Texans’ asking price is likely astronomical while the QB himself can veto a deal with his no-trade clause.

Taking the above into account it’s easy to see why it might be a good idea for the Browns to ride with Mayfield for one more year.

Argument for Trading Mayfield

Although there are several reasons to keep Mayfield on the Browns’ 2022 roster, there’s also a few good reasons to trade him.

For starters, the results just haven’t been there. Whether or not it’s been his fault, Mayfield is the face of the franchise and he hasn’t always stepped up when the team needs him the most. It’s especially when you consider how he was selected five picks ahead of Josh Allen, who’s become an MVP-caliber QB with the Buffalo Bills.

There’s also the fact that Mayfield will likely command a major extension sooner than later. Experts estimated throughout the 2021 NFL season that he and his camp were looking for a contract that pays north of $30 million annually, which may just be too much for the Browns’ liking.

Cleveland is probably looking for something around the $20 million range. Even if that’s fitting for his recent play, Mayfield may feel like he can get more from a quarterback-needy team who believes he can turn things around.

It might also be better for the Browns’ championship odds if they start fresh. The AFC North and the AFC as a conference are pretty loaded with contenders and Mayfield just doesn’t look like he compete with the other top quarterbacks. If Cleveland thinks that there’s an available QB who gives the organization a better shot championship success, the trigger must be pulled.

Browns NFL Futures Odds

At the end of the day, the Browns are in a four-way tie for the 12th-best Super Bowl LVII odds (+2500), according to BetMGM. Even though those odds aren’t awful, it’s clear that more work needs to be done to separate themselves from the pack.

A healthy Mayfield might be able to move the needle on those odds, but there’s no guarantee that the Browns believe that. Even if that’s the case, his social media letter seems to indicate that he wants to press his luck elsewhere.

There’s going to be a lot of pressure on the Browns this year, regardless of who’s under center. If they keep Mayfield, at least he’s a known commodity who knows the playbook and is familiar with his teammates.

Even if there’s a “better” quarterback out there, there’s no telling how long it’ll take them to foster chemistry within the organization. Keeping that in mind, it might be wiser for the Browns to hold on to Mayfield for just one more season.

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