Not everyone is buying that the Seattle Seahawks are eager to acquire, start and extend Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Premier among the skeptics is former Browns general Mike Lombardi, who said on his “GM Shuffle” podcast that he feels the latest development with the Seahawks is simply an effort from Cleveland to improve their leverage against the Panthers, who have been eyeing a move for Mayfield.
“To me, what I think is happening is I think this is an opportunity where the Browns are wanting to finalize this deal with Carolina and there’s kind of a gridlock,” Lombardi said. “I think the Browns and Carolina have reached some conclusion on where it’s going. Again, this is about money.”
Lombardi has a point. All along, the limited Mayfield trade sweepstakes has been all about the money. Teams have been unwilling to take on his full $18.9 million salary for next season, holding on to see if the Browns will take on the majority of that number or simply cut him.
Panthers, Browns Have Discussed Deal Previously
The Browns are Panthers were negotiating a deal during mandatory minicamp last week, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, who added that there was urgency from Carolina to get Mayfield in to learn the playbook before camp. The Panthers and Browns also talked during the draft about a Mayfield trade but could not come to an agreement on how much of his salary each side would take on.
A healthy Mayfield should be an upgrade over Sam Darnold in Carolina, who passed for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games with the Panthers last season. Carolina finished the year 5-12 and have said they’d be open to upgrades at any position if the opportunity presented itself.
“At any position, if we can make a significant improvement, we absolutely should,” Rhule told reporters as the Panthers wrapped up minicamp on Thursday, June 16. “But we can also make a lot of improvements by our guys playing better this year than they have in the past, and I like where he’s headed.”
The Seahawks are currently weighing their QB options, with Geno Smith and Drew Lock competing for the starting role. Seattle’s interest in Mayfield has been disputed from the start and Lombardi doesn’t see the NFC West squad as a contender for his services.
“I think what this report is is to send a message to the Panthers, ‘Hey, let’s get this done. Quickly.’ Do I think Seattle is in it? No, I really don’t. John Schneider loved Drew Lock coming out,” Lombardi said. “What has changed between now and the OTAs all of the sudden that makes Seattle into it? It seems more like a ploy by the Browns to try to get some interest.”
Seahawks Open to Extending Mayfield, Per Report
The report that revved up the rumor mill came from Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, who said Seattle is not only interested in trading for Mayfield but also extending him.
“I’m told the Seahawks still have a high-level of interest in acquiring QB Baker Mayfield and behind-the-scenes are open to contractually extending him,” she tweeted on Wednesday, June 22. “I also know that the process of collecting information and insights into Mayfield is still ongoing.”
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