Baker Mayfield Should Continue to ‘Do What He’s Doing,’ According to NFL Bust Ryan Leaf

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Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field following a game against the Green Bay Packers. He could be on his way to the Carolina Panthers.
Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field following a game against the Green Bay Packers. He could be on his way to the Carolina Panthers.
Baker Mayfield | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is the odd man out in the 2022 offseason game of musical QB chairs. The music stopped this summer, and the embattled Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Meyers sat in the Browns’ seats while Mayfield stood alone looking for a team.

Mayfield hasn’t been too disruptive this offseason, but he’s also not putting on a happy face for the sake of the team. As far as former NFL signal-caller and 1998 No. 2 overall pick Ryan Leaf is concerned, he’s playing things just right.

The Cleveland Browns lost faith in their 2018 No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield, after a subpar season

There are two factions of quarterbacks from the 2018 NFL Draft. There is the Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson camp and the Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen group.

The Buffalo Bills at No. 7 and the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32 got franchise QBs with their picks. Jackson has multiple playoff appearances and an NFL MVP Award, and Allen has multiple playoff wins and finished second in MVP voting in 2020.

The New York Jets took Sam Darnold No. 3, and the Arizona Cardinals took No. 10 in 2018. Darnold is already on his second team, the Carolina Panthers, and Rosen has played for the Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, and Atlanta Falcons. He is currently a free agent heading into 2022.

In 2020, Mayfield looked closer to Allen and Jackson than Darnold and Rosen.

The No. 1 overall pick put up an 11-5 record as a starter, led the Browns to the playoffs, and won a playoff game. He threw for 3,563 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

In 2021, battling multiple injuries and wide receiver drama, Mayfield went 6-8 starting. He threw for 3,010 yards with 17 TDs and 13 INTs.

This was enough for the Browns to send a boatload of first-round picks to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson and give the QB the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history. Now, Mayfield’s team is working behind the scenes to get him out of Cleveland, while the usually-outspoken QB is keeping publically quiet.

Former NFL QB and notorious draft bust Ryan Leaf says he’s playing it just right.

Ryan Leaf says the out-of-favor Cleveland Browns QB should just ‘do what he’s doing’

Ryan Leaf knows a thing or two about the team that drafts you giving up on you as a starting QB. Leaf went No. 2 overall (one pick behind Peyton Manning and 185 ahead of Matt Hasselbeck) in 1998 to the San Diego Chargers.

He started 18 games over two seasons for the Chargers, going 4-14. After that, he only played one more season in the NFL, getting three starts for the Dallas Cowboys in 2001 and losing all three. Leaf was out of the league for good in 2002.

Leaf now has great perspective on what potential first-round bust QBs go through, and he joined the Dan Patrick Show to share his advice on the Baker Mayfield situation:

I’d continue to do what he’s doing. Do not waiver at all. He’s the one who has all the leverage right now. They’ve already said Deshaun Watson is the adult in the room, apparently. And, so, stay strong. Get your money, and get a chance somewhere else eventually. I don’t know how this is going to play out. They have to release him. He can’t be on this roster next year.

Ryan Leaf’s advice to Baker Mayfield

A day after Leaf’s advice to Mayfield, the former NFL signal-caller seems prescient. It now looks like the Cleveland Browns have found a trade partner for the QB, but getting his money is the issue standing in the way of the deal.

Baker Mayfield rumors have the QB going to the Carolina Panthers to compete with fellow 2018 pick Sam Darnold

Multiple reports on Tuesday, June 14, have the Carolina Panthers gearing up to trade for Baker Mayfield.

If the trade is completed, Mayfield will compete with the player picked two spots behind him in 2018, Sam Darnold. The team also now has Ole Miss signal-caller Matt Corral, who it picked No. 94 overall in Round 3 this year.

There is still a stumbling block to the trade, though.

As a player heading into the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, Mayfield will make $18.8 million this season. That’s the exact same number as Darnold, who’s on the same contract. Reports are that Carolina is balking at paying two possible first-round busts over $37 million next season.

If the Browns are willing to eat some of Mayfield’s deal, the trade could get done soon. Spotrac tweets that an October trade deadline deal would mean the Browns pay Mayfield around $8 million this season while the new team would pick up the other $10 million.

If the Browns are willing to do that now, Mayfield could be a Panther soon.

And if he is, it will add another layer of intrigue to the start of the 2022 NFL season. The Browns travel to Carolina for a 1:00 p.m. EST game in Week 1.  

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac

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