The Cleveland Browns have not been able to trade Baker Mayfield, and the most obvious reason for that is they have no leverage after they acquired Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster deal. It may be a bit more complicated, however.
Watson waived his no-trade clause for the Browns after they agreed to sign him to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract. Other NFL team owners were not happy about it, as Cleveland may have drastically altered the quarterback market and done so with a player who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com recently wondered if the Watson deal could negatively impact the Browns’ ability to complete other trades. He noted how NFL teams have worked hard to stay away from the types of fully guaranteed contracts that other sports have. Deals of that nature make managing the salary cap extremely difficult. Now that the Browns broke an unwritten rule, other teams may not want to play nice with them.
“NFL owners are a club. They sometimes do favors for each other in deals,” Pluto wrote. “Other times, they make it hard for teams/owners they don’t like.”
We know there are some teams that have interest in Mayfield. Those teams want the Browns to eat a large portion of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary, which is not a surprise. However, if some owners and executives have negative feelings toward Cleveland because of the Watson deal, they may be even less willing to bend in negotiations. The same could be true when the Browns try to trade away or acquire players in the future.