In the months after Deshaun Watson was traded to the Cleveland Browns, the team hunted for another franchise willing to trade for Baker Mayfield. The Browns finally found an interested party in the Carolina Panthers, dealing Mayfield for a conditional draft pick last week.
On Tuesday, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer revealed the Browns — who will pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary in 2022 — could’ve received a better deal if they agreed to a trade offer from Carolina during the 2022 NFL Draft.
“The draft pick compensation came first in order for us to talk to Baker and kind of take that next step,” Fitterer said during a press conference. “We had to work with Cleveland to figure out what the right number was. Obviously, we talked to Cleveland during the draft — those things have gotten out — the compensation was higher at that point.
“Now that it changed with Matt Corral being added to the group, us going through the spring and Sam [Darnold] playing really well throughout the spring, we just didn’t have that urgency to necessarily go out there and add someone right away. So we worked through that compensation, we reached that [fifth-round pick] going into a [fourth-round pick] in two years, and we thought that was fair. Once that happened, [Browns GM] Andrew Berry granted us permission to … work through the financials part of it.”
Carolina picked Corral in the third-round of the 2022 NFL Draft, adding him to a quarterback room that already had Darnold and P.J. Walker. Fitterer said that the 2024 fifth-round pick headed to Cleveland in exchange for Mayfield will become a fourth-rounder if the quarterback takes at least 70 percent of the Panthers’ offensive snaps in 2022.