Baker Mayfield: Top landing spots for the former Browns QB now that the Panthers have released him
The ongoing dramatic saga surrounding Baker Mayfield keeps rolling right along. Mayfield is once again out of work after the Carolina Panthers released the former Browns quarterback on Monday morning.
Carolina is the second NFL franchise to dump Mayfield in the last six months, following the Browns’ lead. Despite two teams with losing records giving up on Mayfield in such a short period of time, there will be some teams interested in Cleveland’s starting QB from 2018-2021.
Here are a few teams that are likely suitors for Baker Mayfield, listed in order of NFL waiver claim priority as of Week 13.
Browns fans know very well how badly the Texans need a new quarterback. Houston benched second-year QB Davis Mills to watch Kyle Allen turn the ball over four times, including a pick-six to Browns LB Tony Fields, in Sunday’s win by Cleveland. Both Mills and Allen have proven they are not the long-term solution in Houston, which holds the NFL’s worst record at 1-10-1.
Mayfield might not be the long-term solution either for Houston, but he’s at least got competence and experience on his side. Those can help the Texans better evaluate the rest of the offensive roster, including young WRs Nico Collins and Amari Rodgers and TE Teagan Quitoriano.
Los Angeles Rams
No, that’s not Matthew Stafford being sacked there. It’s new Rams starter John Wolford, who took over when the Rams placed Stafford on injured reserve last week after suffering numbness in his toes following a concussion.
Wolford and Bryce Perkins are suited to be No. 3 QBs, not the primary backup. And now that the backup will be starting for at least the remainder of 2022, it’s time for the Rams and head coach Sean McVay to find someone better than what they’ve got.
In theory, Mayfield could make a nice eventual replacement for Stafford and insurance in case the Super Bowl champion retires soon. The Rams did have interest in Mayfield in the 2018 NFL draft despite having 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff (now in Detroit) leading them to a Super Bowl berth.
This one would be fun just to watch the bombastic, dynamic personalities of McVay and Mayfield work together, even for just six weeks. The cap-strapped Rams can’t really afford to claim Mayfield, but that hasn’t stopped them before.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco is cruising right along with an outstanding defense, but the 49ers lost their starting quarterback on Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot in the win over the Dolphins and will miss the rest of the season.
The 49ers primary backup, Trey Lance, is also out for the season. That leaves the 8-4 49ers poised to effort a playoff run with Brock Purdy at the controls. Purdy is this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, the last player selected in the 2022 NFL draft.
The Niners quickly signed journeyman Josh Johnson as a backup. Johnson is smart and mobile, but he’s won exactly one start in his 14-year NFL career and has tossed more INTs than TDs. Mayfield has some familiarity with the Kyle Shanahan style of offense and playoff experience, which could coax a claim from the NFC West leaders.
The Vikings are 10-2 in the first year under head coach Kevin O’Connell. That man seated to O’Connell’s right is Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Yeah, former Browns VP of Football Operations from 2020-2021 Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
Kirk Cousins is playing very well as the Vikings starter. Behind Cousins is another familiar name for Browns fans, Nick Mullens. It was Mullens who started for Cleveland for an injured Mayfield in the Week 15 loss to the Raiders a year ago. He’s acceptable in mop-up or spot duty for Cousins, but if the starter gets hurt in Minnesota, it’s easy to see that contending team wanting more than acceptable.
Mayfield has proven that he can, in fact, be a lot more than acceptable. At times. Adofo-Mensah witnessed those times firsthand, though he also happened to see Mayfield at his worst. It seems far-fetched, but this wacky QB season has proven anything can happen in the NFL.