Baker Mayfield trade watch: Panthers trade up for Matt Corral; Seahawks may be best option
What looked like the most likely landing spot for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was virtually eliminated Friday when the Carolina Panthers traded up for the 94th overall pick to get Matt Corral of Ole Miss in the NFL Draft.
Trade talks between the Browns and Panthers fell apart, with Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reporting that the two sides failed to agree on how the teams would split Mayfield's $18.858 million guaranteed salary for 2022.
Panthers GM Scott Fitterer told Carolina reporters that getting Corral takes him out of the market for a veteran, per ESPN's David Newton. According to Newton, Fitterer didn't put a definite no on acquiring a veteran, but added that he's comfortable with the current group.
NFL Network reported Friday afternoon that the Panthers were exploring a trade for Mayfield that would involve a Day 3 draft pick. ESPN's Kimberley A. Martin followed that up hours later with a Twitter report that the Panthers' pursuit of Mayfield "continues to heat up" and the quarterback "COULD" end up in Carolina by Friday night or this weekend.
But not long after, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler hinted at trouble, tweeting that "Carolina [is] very much torn internally over Mayfield. Some there are simply not sold." Fowler added that the fact that quarterbacks were falling in the draft could affect the situation.
Only three quarterbacks were taken in the first 90 selections. Pitt's Kenny Pickett went No. 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder No. 74 to the Atlanta Falcons and Liberty's Malik Willis No. 86 to the Tennessee Titans.
The Panthers did not have second- or third-round picks, but seeing Corral on the board prompted them to strike a deal with the New England Patriots and move up from the fourth round. Corral is known for his lightning-quick release, pinpoint accuracy on short to intermediate throws and quick feet that make him a running threat.
Earlier in the day, the NFL Network news did not sit well with former Panthers five-time Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith Sr., drafted in 2001, who played 13 of his 16 NFL seasons in Carolina.
"I hear the Carolina Panthers ... are going to make a move for Baker Mayfield. My reaction if they do ... NOOOOOOOO," Smith said, screaming in the video he posted on Twitter from the network's set.
What I'm hearing is not making me feel good.... my stomach hurts 😫 pic.twitter.com/lUqH95u7Tt
— Steve Smith Sr. (@CutToIt) April 29, 2022
Current Panthers receiver Robby Anderson had the same "Nooooo," reaction to the Mayfield speculation on April 15, but he later clarified and downplayed his post on social media.
The Seattle Seahawks, mentioned by Mayfield as a possible landing spot, selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross at No. 9 on Thursday. They did not take a quarterback on Friday, choosing Minnesota edge rusher Boye Mafe at No. 40, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III at No. 41, and Washington State offensive tackle Abraham Lucas at No. 72.
The Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Falcons were the other finalists in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. A three-time Pro Bowl quarterback with the Houston Texans, Watson first eliminated the Browns, then changed his mind when General Manager Andrew Berry offered Watson a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
The controversial trade was executed on March 18, making Mayfield expendable. But the Browns found no immediate market for the first overall pick in 2018 because of the $18.858 million he’s guaranteed for 2022.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said during a conference call last week that the Panthers seemed like the best fit for Mayfield.
"I was talking to a GM this morning," Jeremiah said. "He was kind of making the case that if you look at Carolina's options, he thought that Baker Mayfield was probably the most attractive of all the different options that they would have, whether it's in this draft or going the veteran route. And it wasn't [the GM from] Cleveland. It wasn't Andrew Berry, so I don't want [anyone] to think I'm doing his bidding for him."
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Before the draft, the Seahawks and Panthers seemed most likely to deal for Mayfield, especially if the Browns are willing to pay part of Mayfield's salary.
On a recent “Ya Neva Know: You Know What I Mean?” podcast, Mayfield was asked where he might end up and his answer was the Seahawks. Mayfield said he’d expected the destination to be the Indianapolis Colts, but that was quashed when the Colts traded for four-time Pro Bowler Matt Ryan, 36.
Until getting Coral, the Panthers had only two quarterbacks — Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker.
Acquired in an April 5, 2021, trade from the New York Jets, Darnold played in 12 games last season and threw for 2,577 yards and nine touchdowns with 13 interceptions and a 71.9 rating. A USC product who was the third overall pick of the Jets in 2018, Darnold has played in 50 career games and has a 17-32 record as a stater (4-7 last season). His 76.9 career rating includes 54 touchdowns and 52 interceptions.
Tennessee Titans grab sliding Malik Willis with 86th overall pick
Projected as a first-round pick, Willis made a dramatic slide, but could end up as the heir apparent to Ryan Tannehill.
The Titans' Tannehill turns 34 on July 27 and coach Mike Vrabel could be looking for Tannehill’s future replacement. Tannehill showed signs of slowing down late in the season. He threw for four touchdowns with six interceptions and a 73.3 rating in November, going 2-2, and was 2-1 in December, when he totaled one touchdown and one interception.
Atlanta Falcons may have found Matt Ryan's replacement in Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder with 74th pick
After trading Ryan, the Falcons seemingly found their bridge quarterback in Marcus Mariota, who spent the previous two years with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Falcons didn't overreach for someone to supplant Mariota, selecting wide receiver Drake London of USC with the eighth overall pick. But on Friday they tabbed Ridder, who lost only six games in 50 career starts at Cincinnati.
A polished passer with a strong arm, good vision and escapability, Ridder has some of the same characteristics as Mariota, the Titans' second overall pick in 2015. He hasn’t started a game since Oct. 13, 2019. His career has been plagued by injuries and a revolving door of coaches before he lost his Titans job to Ryan Tannehill.
Seattle Seahawks don't upgrade from Drew Lock with first four selections
The Seahawks traded nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, 33, a third-round pick in 2012, to the Denver Broncos in March and received Drew Lock, a second-round pick in 2019, in return.
Lock’s credentials — 8-13 as a starter (0-3 last season) — aren't impressive. He carries a 79.3 career rating with 25 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 24 games.
The Seahawks could still be interested in Mayfield and the presence of Alonzo Highsmith, senior executive advisor to Seahawks General Manager John Schneider, could enhance Mayfield’s chances of landing there. Highsmith was the Browns' vice president of player personnel when ex-GM John Dorsey drafted Mayfield in 2018.
Also with the Seahawks is associate head coach Carl Smith, a former Browns assistant who still follows the team from afar. Smith was the Browns’ quarterbacks coach in 2001-03 and 2009-10.
Geno Smith and Jacob Eason are also on the Seahawks roster. Smith, 13-21 as a career starter, has played for the Jets, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and Seahawks. Eason, a fourth-round pick of the Colts in 2020, has attempted only five NFL passes.
Detroit Lions trade up to No. 12 for Alabama receiver Jameson Williams, not competition for Jared Goff
When the Lions traded up from No. 32 to No. 12 on Thursday, it ignited speculation that the first quarterback would come off the board. But the Lions instead selected speedy receiver Jameson Williams of Alabama, a transfer from Ohio State who tore his ACL in the national championship game.
The Lions have not addressed the quarterback position in the draft, also adding defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and Josh Paschal of Kentucky and Illinois safety Kerby Joseph.
Dorsey is now a senior personnel executive for the Lions, whose top quarterback is Jared Goff.
The first overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, Goff is 45-37-1 in his career as a starter and made two Pro Bowls. But he went just 3-10-1 with the Lions last season despite his 19 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 91.5 rating.
If the Lions considered a trade for Mayfield, the issue would be how Mayfield would handle a training camp competition with Goff, if that’s the route coach Dan Campbell might choose after a 3-13-1 season. There’s also the question of how much influence Dorsey has after being fired by the Browns.
New Orleans Saints stick with Jameis Winston, pick receiver Chris Olave, offensive tackle Trevor Penning
All the quarterbacks were still available when the Saints picked at No. 19, but the Saints apparently weren't looking for their quarterback of the future and selected Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning.
The Saints brought back Jameis Winston on a two-year contract in March after he led them to a 5-2 record to start the 2021 season before being lost to a knee injury. At the time, he’d thrown for 14 touchdowns with three interceptions, had a 102.8 passer rating and ranked first in the league in touchdown percentage (8.7).
The Saints apparently didn't see an equal for a healthy Winston, the first overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015, especially since he didn’t have top receiver Michael Thomas last season. They added to Winston's targets by drafting Ohio State receiver Chris Olave at No. 11.
After taking Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning and Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor, the Saints have only two picks remaining, one each in the fifth and sixth round.
Steelers find Ben Roethlisberger's replacement in Pitt's Kenny Pickett
The Steelers found their replacement for retired six-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL champion Ben Roethlisberger when they made Pickett the first quarterback selected.
The Steelers heavily scouted the position since they have only longtime backup Mason Rudolph and Mitchell Trubisky, the Mentor High School product who was the second overall pick of the Chicago Bears in 2017. Trubisky attempted just eight passes last season as Josh Allen’s backup in Buffalo.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Possible Baker Mayfield trade partner Carolina Panthers pass on QB