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Did the Panthers overplay their hand on Baker Mayfield?

Panthers brass may have thought they had an easy backup plan when they didn’t

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Charlotte FC Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re waiting for the Cleveland Browns to cut Baker Mayfield so he can pack up and move to Charlotte, don’t hold your breath. That’s what Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot wrote this week, pointing out that the Browns have no plans to cut Mayfield, even if he’s still on the roster at the start of training camp in July.

“With Mayfield under contract for a fully-guaranteed $18.86 million, it makes no sense for the Browns to cut him and take the entire hit,” wrote Cabot.

The waiting game was perhaps a card up the Panthers’ sleeve once they hit a snag in trade talks with the Browns. Did the team feel at the time that it could lowball the Browns, assuming Mayfield would eventually get released?

“In a trade, Carolina wanted Cleveland to pay the majority of Mayfield’s $18.9 million guaranteed salary, somewhere in the range of $13-14 million. Those conversations stalled,” wrote the Charlotte Observer. “[Scott] Fitterer’s comments that he was happy with the quarterback room sent a message to the Browns that Carolina ‘doesn’t need to make a trade.’ And perhaps the Panthers don’t. Perhaps the Browns get desperate and cut him.

Unfortunately, things aren’t likely to go that way now.

Because now, writes Cabot, there’s more incentive to keep Mayfield around. Deshaun Watson likely faces a season-opening suspension when the NFL wraps up its investigation into misconduct.

“So, the Browns could need a backup quarterback to play for some length of time. Maybe that is Mayfield, after all, and not Jacoby Brissett,” wrote Cabot.

And don’t forget that new Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo probably isn’t the biggest Mayfield fan around town. Per the New York Post, a few months after Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo told The Post that he ranked Mayfield as the sixth-best quarterback in the class.

So there it is. If the Panthers want Mayfield, they’ll need to pay up. It seems like they aren’t willing to do so, and they also have an offensive coordinator who may not particularly even want Mayfield around.

Has myself and NFL media talked about Baker Mayfield enough for one month? Yep, probably so.