In 2017, Brown was traded for Texas quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Browns got a second-round pick for their problem, because they were taking a guaranteed $16 million salary from Houston Books.
Five years later, Brown may need to apply similar creativity to the $18.8 million guaranteed salary owed to his quarterback Baker Mayfield. Even then, that might not be enough to stop them from just cutting it.
It was recently reported that Brown did not want to pick Mayfield in the first round. I hope they don’t want a second or a third or a fourth either. With only a handful of teams claiming a first overall pick in the 2018 draft, Brown may have to accept a low selection at best in order to ditch his paycheck.
At some point, Brown may in fact have to attach a low-level pick in order to move from Mayfield and most if not all of his contract. (Brown may have to pay a good chunk of $18.8 million to make it happen.)
Everyone knows that Brown ended up with Mayfield. And the only place he wanted to go – the ponies – he didn’t. Even if the Seahawks, The Lions or Falcon, for example, show an interest, Mayfield could make it clear that he’s not interested in playing for any of those teams.
He has a hammer in this case. He’s earning $18.8 million, no matter what. Brown could eventually be forced to release him if he made it clear he would eventually refuse to embrace a new team.
Brown certainly doesn’t want them to do that. For starters, he would make a beeline for Pittsburgh, which would pay him a minimum one-year salary of $1.035 million and commit Brown to $17.765 million. Immediately, it became the top choice on the Steelers’ depth chart.
He will feel humbled. He will be motivated. Mike Tomlin, who has a knack for keeping difficult characters in the right direction, will be able to help him.
For the Browns, the challenge becomes finding a team that trades for Mayfield, and one that Mayfield gladly accepts the trade. Even without the no-trade clause, teams won’t be inclined to trade against a quarterback who doesn’t want to be there.
In the end, Brown may have no choice but to cut Mayfield. They may need to accept that it is a side cost of trading Deshaun Watson before resolving the Mayfield case.
The cost of a warranty can be very expensive. In what will be Mayfield’s last game for the Browns, witness the way Pittsburgh cuddles Ben Roethlisberger in his last game for the Steelers. With that defensive, operational game and coaching staff, Mayfield could eventually wrap up a 10-year career in Pittsburgh with a similar farewell.
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