What I’m hearing about Baker Mayfield, Carolina and Browns QB plans – Terry Pluto

What I’m hearing about Baker Mayfield, Carolina and Browns QB plans – Terry Pluto


1. I hear the Browns and Carolina are still talking about Baker Mayfield. No matter what Carolina claims, the Panthers need to know that Sam Darnold isn’t anywhere near the answer to being their quarterback.

2. Darnold was in the same 2018 draft as Mayfield. Baker was the first choice, going to the Browns. Darnold went No. 3 on the Jets. The best QBs came later. Not talking about my favorite QB in this draft – Josh Rosen…YIKES! He went No. 10 in Atlanta. Buffalo caught Josh Allen at No. 7. Baltimore traded late in the first round to trap Lamar Jackson.

3. Some draft pundits had Darnold as their top QB. Both have seen their value hammered like a share of stocks that almost everyone hates.

4. The Browns and Carolina had discussions about Mayfield around the draft in late April. At that time, the Browns still seemed to think that a potential Deshaun Watson suspension wouldn’t be long. I was told that Darnold was not a serious part of these talks.

5. It’s six weeks later. The Browns are still awaiting the NFL’s decision on Watson. They are not naive. They know the public pressure is on the NFL to treat Watson seriously. In the past, most full-season suspensions have been for players involved in gambling or convicted of serious criminal crimes. I’m sure there are exceptions. Two grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.


The Browns think Jacoby Brissett can do a solid job as a starter while Deshaun Watson is out.

Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com

6. But it could be different. Watson could be out for the season – or at least a lot of games in 2022. Will the Browns really enter the season with Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs at quarterbacks?

7. Some fans keep trying to find ways to get Mayfield back. It will not arrive. Both parties do not want this to happen. OK, I’ll never say… but it’s close.

8. Can the Browns use a Mayfield trade to add another QB? This could be the reason why no agreement has been reached yet. The Browns could wait for the NFL’s decision to plan their next move.

9. The Browns believe Brissett, 29, is better at this point in his career than former backup QB Case Keenum (now with Buffalo). Over the past three seasons, Brissett is 9-11 as a starter with Miami and Indianapolis. In those 20 games, he threw 23 TD passes to 10 interceptions, completing 61%.

10. The Browns believe they can win with Brissett if necessary. Maybe so, given his solid running game and ability to avoid turnovers. But Dodds as backup? He is 27 years old. He never started an NFL game. His regular season experience is 10 of 17 assists, zero touchdowns and one interception. He was the No. 3 QB in his career, and that’s his role.

Cleveland Browns' QB Baker Mayfield is still up for auction: Crowquill

Illustration by Ted Crow for Crowquill.

11. Chances are the Browns will have to find someone else as a replacement. This brings us back to Carolina, to a different type of trade. Could the Browns make a deal for Darnold?

12. If the Browns were to negotiate for Darnold, it would be as Brissett’s replacement. Over the past two seasons, Darnold is 6-17 as a starter, completing 59% of his passes. The most alarming is 24 interceptions against 18 TDs.

13. If the Panthers traded for Mayfield, why would they want Darnold? Mayfield and Darnold have the same salaries for 2022 ($18.9 million) according to overthecap.com. No team would want $38 million tied up at Darnold and Mayfield. It would be natural to build a trade around the two QBs.

14. I guess a deal won’t happen until Watson’s suspension situation is clear. I heard the Browns were ready to release a shorter suspension with Brissett. They’ll wait for a QB to be cut in training camp, much like how the Browns got Nick Mullens back just before the 2021 season.

15. Mullens is now a substitute with the Raiders, battling Jarrett Stidham for the No. 2 spot behind Derek Carr. It is possible that Mullens will become available again. But if Watson is out for the year — or even 10 games — the Browns should consider adding a veteran QB replacement.


I will be giving a talk on Tuesday (June 14) at the Walls of Books in Parmatown starting at 6:30 p.m. It’s free. We’ll talk about my latest book Vintage Browns and other aspects of Cleveland sports.


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