Did the Browns make a mistake acquiring Deshaun Watson before trading Baker Mayfield?

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield has spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns after they selected him with the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Uncertainty about his future really started to swirl during the 2022 offseason after the Browns declined to offer him a contract extension.

The decision by the Browns not to extend him would force Baker Mayfield to play out the final year of his contract without making any commitments beyond that. Rumors began to heat up that the Browns were starting to think about moving on from Mayfield when the team did not offer him a new deal.

Those rumors turned out to be true when the Browns made a blockbuster move to acquire Deshaun Watson via a trade with the Houston Texans during the 2022 offseason. The 26-year-old superstar will now serve as the franchise quarterback moving forward, taking over the job from Mayfield.

Since the Deshaun Watson trade became official, the Browns have placed Mayfield on the trade block. They have been unable to find a trade partner for Mayfield so far, and it appears their options are quickly disappearing as most teams in the market for a new quarterback have already acquired one during the 2022 offseason.

The Browns may have made a bit of a mistake by waiting too long to make Baker Mayfield available, but they surely didn't make a mistake by acquiring Deshaun Watson. The quarterback position is, by far, the most important one, so a team should never hesitate to acquire an elite option when the opportunity presents itself, regardless of any other factors involved.

In hindsight, the Browns probably should have begun shopping Mayfield in the trade market as soon as they declined to extend his contract. When they realized the Watson deal was on the table, they couldn't risk losing it by waiting to see if they could trade Mayfield first. They couldn't hesitate on Watson, so they did what they had to do, but ideally they would have already moved Mayfield prior.

What's next for Baker Mayfield?

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield

There are just two teams remaining that are rumored to be in the market to potentially trade for a new quarterback. They are the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers. Unless something changes, Mayfield will need to join one of those two teams if he wants to be a regular starting quarterback for the 2022 NFL season. If neither of those teams are interested in Mayfield, it's unlikely he will be a full-time starting quarterback this year.

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Edited by Windy Goodloe