According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, the Indianapolis Colts are Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield’s preferred trade destination—if dealt, which could occur regardless of whether Deshaun Watson ultimately ends up playing in front of the ‘Dawg Pound’ faithful.
Earlier this afternoon, following an article from Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, I wrote an analysis piece on whether Mayfield could be a ‘sneaky trade option for the Colts’—given that the San Francisco 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo and the Las Vegas Raiders Marcus Mariota have seemed like the clear initial frontrunners for their vacant starting quarterback position, yet a Browns’ move regarding Mayfield could be imminent.
Instead of rehashing all those points, I’ll just briefly state that the former top overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft still has some things going in his favor: youth (26 years old), a first round pedigree, and past proven production, as his 2020 season was pretty solid.
While his 2021 campaign was underwhelming, he also was battling through a partially torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder—which eventually required late season-ending surgery. When fully healthy, he also has dual-threat mobility, which would allow the Colts to continue to run RPOs, play-action, and the occasional bootleg offensively.
Certainly helping his Colts cause, is that Mayfield comes with a cost efficient $18.9M cap hit in 2022, which is the last year of his current Browns contract.
That being said, having been surrounded with top wide receivers and running backs in Cleveland, the Browns offensive production hasn’t been what it ideally should’ve been in recent seasons.
Some of that squarely rests on Baker’s shoulders, but this is a starting quarterback who could still get better—and maybe a much needed change of scenery could serve Mayfield well (as it’s not as though the Browns franchise has been particularly good at finding and developing starting quarterbacks historically).
However, there does appear to be some potential ‘deja vu’ with what just transpired with former top draft pick Carson Wentz—and the Colts’ now failed trade for him. Buyer beware?
If nothing else, it could provide the Colts another option for negotiating and leverage in ongoing trade talks (namely with the San Francisco 49ers for Jimmy G.).