Baker Mayfield's future remains uncertain as he is still not traded after the Cleveland Browns acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans. It is clear that he no longer has the starting QB job with the team, so the only option for him is to be sent to a different franchise or released if no one else is interested.
While it's easy to feel bad for Mayfield, former Browns star Joe Thomas believes the QB has no one to blame but himself. According to him, the 26-year-old might have “overplayed his hand” in dealing with Cleveland, leading to the collapse of their relationship.
Thomas highlighted Mayfield's trade request when the Browns were linked to Watson. Cleveland got past that without any result, so the general expectations were that Mayfield would be the starting QB. Instead, he reportedly asked for a trade and even denied the team's attempt to fix their relationship.
Now, he found himself on the outside looking in after the Browns focused on the Watson trade and succeeded.
“Baker said ‘I'm not playing for you guys anymore, I’m not coming back,'” Thomas explained. “Which the interesting thing is that to me, it seemed like Baker overplayed his hand a little bit… At that moment, the Browns were out of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.
“And it seemed by all accounts that they were ready to do what it took to smooth things over with Baker … And this was just my speculation because they offered him a $30 million contract last season. He said, ‘No, I’m going to continue to play under this contract I think I’m worth more.'”
So what could have Baker Mayfield done in the situation? For Joe Thomas, it's quite simple. He could have played it cool and used it to his advantage to get the significant contract he wanted. As Thomas mentioned, there were previous reports that the Browns were ready to offer him a contract in the $30 million range, which he allegedly turned down in search for bigger money.
“He overplayed his hand a little bit, because at that point, the Browns were backed into a corner,” Thomas furthered. “He was their quarterback and he could have said, ‘Hey, I realize that you guys went after Deshaun Watson. It didn't sit well with me, but to make it up to me, I need to do something with this contract. You need to commit to me, so I can commit to you, right? Let's get this relationship back together. Let's get remarried. Let's have our 10-year renewal of vows.' … But he didn't say that. He got a little sensitive about it.”
Maybe if @bakermayfield hadn't overplayed his hand, the @Browns would have never pursued @deshaunwatson … pic.twitter.com/laJBb8I3ZC
— The Thom & Hawk Football Show (@ThomaHawkShow) March 25, 2022
It remains to be seen what will happen to Mayfield. While there are reportedly teams interested in him, the fact of the matter is he's hard to acquire given his contract. Apparently, NFL franchises are turned off by his $18 million base salary.
Furthermore, some teams see him as a liability more than an asset, which is why they want a pick attached if they were to acquire him. Of course that is a difficult scenario for the Browns since they would be better off releasing him than trading him if they are not getting anything significant in return.
The Browns could probably opt to use him as a backup, but that is only delaying the inevitable if they are unable to find a willing trade partner for him.