Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could be free agents before the start of the 2022 season.
NFL officials and agents believe Mayfield and Garoppolo will likely be released, according to an ESPN poll of league executives, which was released last Friday.
Some executives believe Garoppolo – whose $137.5 million contract expires at the end of 2022 – could still attract commercial interest, provided an opposing team can negotiate a lower salary or spread it over a few years .
Garoppolo and Mayfield, who both underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, remain on their respective rosters. The quarterbacks received excused absences from the mandatory minicamp this week.
Garoppolo, who has been the 49ers’ starter since the end of the 2017 season, said in January that he and team general manager John Lynch talked about “finding the right destination” for the quarterback. Lynch said San Francisco has budgeted for the possibility of Garoppolo, 30, remaining on the roster next season.
The 49ers are set to move forward with second-year quarterback Trey Lance, whom the team selected with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. San Francisco did not managed to move Garoppolo into the middle of the free agency quarterback carousel that saw blockbuster deals with Russell Wilson (Broncos) and Matt Ryan (Colts).
As for Mayfield, who has been the Browns’ starter since the start of his rookie season in 2018, he is owed a guaranteed salary of $18.8 million this season, which would have made it difficult for Cleveland to move him.
The 27-year-old quarterback has continued to distance himself from the Browns this offseason. He asked the team for a trade in March, when Cleveland acquired his replacement in former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson — who faces 24 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
Mayfield skipped Cleveland’s volunteer OTAs in May but is expected to attend training camp in July.
It’s also possible that Garoppolo and Mayfield will stay with the 49ers and Browns respectively. Garoppolo is said to have a great relationship with the 49ers brass and is highly respected in the locker room.
The Cleveland quarterback’s situation could also take a turn, as Watson could potentially face suspension by the NFL, which is in the midst of its own investigation into whether Watson violated its code of conduct.
The Panthers and Seahawks were repeatedly mentioned as candidates for either flagman.