So what happened? The likely scenario is that the Browns refused to take on some or most of his salary in a proposed trade. Teams around the NFL have all the leverage knowing the Browns want to get rid of the former No. 1 overall pick as soon as possible.
Yet a trade remains likely now that the draft is over. Teams know the makeup of their roster and can patiently negotiate with the Browns. So which teams in particular remain likely landing spots in a trade?
3 NFL teams that should still make a trade for Baker Mayfield
#1 - Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers remain the most likely option and have been for some time. They did add Matt Corral of Ole Miss at quarterback during the draft, but that slot does not mean he is showing up to be the starter. If anything, he is a long-term project while Sam Darnold runs the show in 2022.
Mayfield and the Panthers have been linked for months. Given Darnold is on a fifth-year option as welll, why not have both young men compete? The loser of that competition could be traded or allowed to serve as backup. The team has nothing to lose and the weak 2022 quarterback class could buy Matt Rhule more time.
#2 - Detroit Lions
There is an important connection here for Detroit Lions fans to note. That is the fact that former Browns GM John Dorsey is in the Lions' front office. That means the man who drafted Mayfield is in the perfect positon to bring the former No. 1 pick to his new team.
Jared Goff is not going anywhere this year due to a massive dead cap figure of over $41 million. But that goes down to $10 million in 2023. The Lions can add Mayfield and even if he doesn't win the job, he could still be an option in 2023 once the team likely moves on from Goff. If anything, real competition for Goff could push the Lions offense to surprise some fans in 2022.
#3 - Houston Texans
The Browns and Houston Texans could do business again with another quarterback trade. Houston currently has Davis Mills set in as the starter, with Lovie Smith taking over as head coach.
Mills did show flashes of potential in 2021 in what was an impossible situation for any rookie quarterback. The problem is, there is no one pushing him on the depth chart. Adding Mayfield would could push Mills to progress. Then we would see if he is really the best option, or if he is the starter by default.
By moving Watson's contract, the Texans have a miniscule amount of money committed to the quarterback position. Mayfield coming in around $19 million would be a bargain and he could get a boost in a return to Texas.