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Here’s why Browns trading Baker Mayfield to Panthers for 2024 conditional fifth-round draft pick

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Finally, there is an end to the Baker Mayfield saga in Cleveland: he is moving to Charlotte.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Browns and Panthers have agreed on a trade that sends Mayfield to Carolina in return for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024 (which might move up to the fourth round). A physical examination is pending the transaction. Carolina later made the purchase public.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Cleveland will pay Mayfield $10.5 million this season, saving nearly $8 million in cash and salary-cap space. The fifth-year quarterback will receive almost $5 million from Carolina, meanwhile. Originally owed $18.858 million, Mayfield agreed to a $3.5 million wage cut but can make up the difference through incentives.

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With the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, Mayfield’s career with Cleveland got underway. Although Mayfield had his share of highs and lows, his relationship with the Browns ultimately turned sour as they pursued and eventually signed Deshaun Watson. Watson originally disqualified the Browns from consideration, but Mayfield quickly lost patience and demanded a trade as the Browns tried to persuade Watson to agree to a trade to Cleveland.

The Mayfield era in Cleveland was all but over when Watson changed his mind and signed with the Browns. The Browns have been shopping Mayfield since mid-March, but because to their limited leverage in trade talks, they kept him on the roster and away from the facility as they waited for a reasonable offer.

This week, they got one of those offers.

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In a statement announcing the trade, Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said, “We want to thank Baker for all his efforts to the Cleveland Browns.” “He sacrificed all for this team and this city from the minute he was selected. He inspired the fan support and did things that no player at his position had done in Cleveland for a very long time thanks to his tremendous competitive spirit.”

Sam Darnold, a fellow top-three pick from 2018, will move to Carolina and sign a deal that is essentially comparable to that of Mayfield. The fifth and final year of Mayfield’s and Darnold’s contracts, which together were supposed to free up $18.858 million in salary cap space, is now. This amount is reduced to about $5 million by the Mayfield trade, which also calls into question Darnold’s long-term viability.

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The former top three 2018 draft picks will now compete in training camp to see who will start for Carolina; third-round rookie Matt Corral is now on the roster, according to Garafolo.

As a Panthers’ rehabilitation project, Darnold was traded to Carolina in 2021, but he was unable to convince the team that he was deserving of a long-term commitment. Meanwhile, Mayfield failed while dealing with numerous injuries last season, which prompted the Browns to look elsewhere for a quarterback before trading him to the Panthers.

It appears that Mayfield will now serve as the Panthers’ rebirth initiative in 2022. Mayfield had shoulder surgery to fix a fractured shoulder and torn labrum, and if he recovers completely, he will have one season to show he can do what Darnold couldn’t.

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