CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have moved on from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The trade was inevitable after the Browns acquisition of Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans. The trade was a long time coming, since the Browns landed Watson on March 20.
Cleveland is getting a fifth-round pick back for Mayfield, which could end up being a fourth-round pick if he plays 70 percent of the Panthers’ snaps. It is a far way from the first overall pick that the Browns used on Mayfield back in 2018.
The hope for the Browns is that they now have their franchise quarterback, though he may not see the field for an extended time due to a possible suspension. Watson recently settled 20-0f-24 civil lawsuits that were pending against him.
Mayfield is heading for a much needed fresh start with the Panthers. Injuries hampered the former Heisman Trophy winner last season. The bad season for Mayfield had a part in the Browns finishing the season with an 8-9 record. It was the poor quarterback play that led the Browns to look for an upgrade, which came in Watson. Trading for Watson caused a fractured relationship between the Browns and Mayfield — one that was never going to be fixed.
To help the trade happen, Mayfield trimmed $3.5 millon from his $18.5 million that was due this season, thanks to the fully guaranteed fifth-year contract. The Browns are paying about $10 million of this year’s cash, while the Panthers will pay just $5 million. Overall, Cleveland is saving $8 million, and they could choose to roll over to next year.
Panthers and Browns are scheduled to play in week one at Bank of America Stadium. If Mayfield is able to win the starting quarterback job he will go up against his former team early in the season. While Watson may not be on the field, backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett likely will be. There could be some early season drama to the schedule for the Browns, which will start with the player they one time hoped would lead their franchise for years and years.