Imagine that you are Baker Mayfield’s agent. Your client has a career record of just 29 wins and 30 losses, has thrown 56 interceptions in 60 games as a starter, makes $19 million a year, is coming back from off-season shoulder surgery, and he’s demanded a trade.

Did I mention that your client has also been replaced as the starter by Deshaun Watson and his five-year, $230 million contract?

You tell your client that you will make a few calls and not to worry. After all, this is Baker Mayfield, the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

• Tampa Bay seems like the perfect fit with its talented roster, warm weather, and a retired Tom Brady. But Brady un-retired two weeks ago.

• Green Bay isn’t quite as warm, but with Aaron Rodgers rumored to go to Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, or Miami, there should be an opening. But Rodgers decided to make things work in Green Bay, thanks to a three-year/$150 million extension. Let’s give Rodgers’ four suitors a call.
• Denver traded for Russell Wilson by giving up two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a later pick, and three players, including Drew Lock.

• Indianapolis sent Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders for roughly two third-round picks, but then picked up Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons. The Commanders were initially interested in Russell Wilson, but Wilson wasn’t willing and had a no-trade clause in his contract. Washington even tried convincing Andrew Luck to come back to the league.
• Pittsburgh replaced a retired Ben Roethlisberger with Mitch Trubisky, apparently hoping that Roethlisberger likes retirement about as much as Tom Brady did.
• The Miami Dolphins would have been willing to use Mayfield as a backup to Tua Tagovailoa but they already gave that job to Teddy Bridgewater.
• The New Orleans Saints would have been a possibility, but the team signed Jameis Winston to a two-year/$28 million contract and still have Taysom Hill. I guess the logic is why replace a turnover-prone first overall pick with a turnover-prone first overall pick.

It is possible that Mayfield’s contract is an issue. At $19 million a year he is far too expensive to be a backup like Tyrod Taylor is on the New York Giants (two-year/$11 million), or Joe Flacco is on the New York Jets (one-year/$3.5 million). But considering Rodgers, Matthew Stafford (four-years/$160 million), or Kirk Cousins (one-year/$35 million) extensions, Mayfield could be considered a bargain.

As for trade value. If Matt Ryan is only worth a third-round pick as compensation, what is Baker Mayfield worth? A seventh-rounder and a six-pack of Natty Light?

Kind of wishing your disgruntled client was Kyler Murray right now.

• That leaves us with a Houston Texans team that seems to be content with Davis Mills.
• The Atlanta Falcons who picked up Marcus Mariota (two-year/$20 million).
• The Carolina Panthers with their Cam Newton and Sam Darnold duo.
• And the Seattle Seahawks, which have Drew Lock and apparently are in conversations with Colin Kaepernick.

You eventually tell your client that things are not the best out there. Your client is too inconsistent as a starter yet too expensive as a backup. Your client demanded a trade yet has no trade value. Your client has only three or four possible destinations, and that’s only if the salary is acceptable and Jimmy Garoppolo, Gardner Minshew, or a rookie first-rounder doesn’t end up there first.

Fortunately, you have one more team to call.

The Cleveland Browns pick up the phone and you get to work. You tell the organization that Baker Mayfield would like a $6 million raise and in return, he will drop his trade demands for now. You see, Deshaun Watson still has 22 civil lawsuits pending for sexual assault and there is a good chance that the NFL will suspend him for most, if not all of the 2022 season. There are no quarterbacks available, and you just traded your only backup, Case Keenum, to the Bills. Your schedule is brutal, your team is a public relations nightmare, and you need Baker more than he needs you! You can trade him mid-season when injuries occur, you can let him go at the end of the year, but you have no other options! Pay him!

That’s when Cleveland let’s you know that the team just signed Jacoby Brissett three days ago.


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Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship