BEREA — When the dust settled from the NFL Draft on Saturday night, the Browns had three new players from the University of Oklahoma and a Sooners legend left in limbo.
The Browns achieved many goals the past few days, but trading quarterback Baker Mayfield is a task General Manager Andrew Berry has yet to complete.
The breakup with Mayfield occurred March 18 when the Browns made a controversial trade with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson and gave the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback a five-year contract worth an NFL-record $230 million fully guaranteed.
However, the divorce between the Browns and Mayfield has yet to be finalized.
"It's a fluid situation,” Berry said during a draft wrap-up news conference. “We're dealing with it day by day. We're pleased with the weekend, pleased with the guys that we added and we're looking forward."
Trade talks between the Browns and Carolina Panthers reportedly fizzled Friday, leaving the Seattle Seahawks as the most logical suitor for Mayfield, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma the season before Cleveland drafted him first overall in 2018. Yet NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Saturday his sense is the Seahawks' interest in Mayfield is “lukewarm at best.”
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The $18.858 million guaranteed Mayfield is owed next season on his fifth-year option continues to stand in the way of a deal. The Browns are expected to need to pay a significant portion of it to facilitate a trade, but Berry has made it clear since the NFL owners meetings in March he feels no pressure to rush into what he considers a “suboptimal” move.
While the Mayfield waiting game continued, the Browns drafted with symmetry, picking four players on offense, four on defense and a specialist.
Of the nine players they chose, three are from Oklahoma, with the trio coming aboard Saturday.
"Someone mentioned it to me as I was coming down [to the media room],” Berry said. “I don't think it necessarily even hit my brain at that time. It just happens to be an interesting coincidence.”
Mayfield is the former Oklahoma star on everyone's mind.
Berry didn't want to comment on whether the Browns will likely find themselves keeping Mayfield into the summer to see if a quarterback injury elsewhere creates an unforeseen trade opportunity.
“I'd probably go back to what I said a little bit earlier,” Berry said. “It's fluid, and we'll deal with it as circumstances change accordingly.”
Mayfield would not be contractually obligated to report to Browns headquarters until mandatory minicamp June 14-16. To avoid fines and potential contractual issues, Mayfield would attend minicamp and training camp, which begins in late July, a league source said. The Browns can excuse Mayfield but not tell him to stay away.
“We'll deal with it as it comes,” Berry said.
Reviewing the Cleveland Browns' 2022 NFL Draft picks
The Browns entered the three-day draft with glaring holes on their defensive line and in their receiving corps. They desperately needed an upgrade at kicker, too.
Berry checked all of those boxes, albeit later than expected because he traded down 24 spots and out of the second round Friday night.
“I've probably never been a part of a draft where you literally accomplish everything that you want,” Berry said. “There are always whether it's opportunities, players or some other facet that either do not go your way or maybe it's a bit ambitious. We're really pleased with how we're coming out of the weekend, but the reality is no roster is perfect, our roster is not perfect and we're going to continue to look for opportunities to improve it.”
Cleveland's 2022 NFL Draft pick tracker: See every Browns selection
Berry used his first pick this year in the third round on Mississippi State cornerback Martin Emerson at No. 68 overall.
On Saturday, they drafted Oklahoma defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey (No. 108 overall) and Louisiana State kicker Cade York (No. 124) in the fourth round, Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford (No. 156) in the fifth round, Oklahoma receiver Michael Woods II (No. 202) in the sixth round and Oklahoma defensive end Isaiah Thomas (No. 223) and Texas Tech center Dawson Deaton (No. 246) in the seventh round.
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Thomas is the only 23-year-old player Berry has drafted since he became GM in January 2020. The other 23 prospects selected by Berry have been in the 20-22 age range when they were picked.
"Age is important, but it's not the only thing," Berry said. "It all factors into it. We're not age purists as everyone may believe. We really do want good football players.”
Drafting three defensive linemen, including two ends, raises questions about whether the Browns will re-sign three-time Pro Bowl selection Jadeveon Clowney.
“We'll continue to keep our thumb on the pulse of all of the veteran markets," Berry said. "I would not comment on a specific player, but we think highly of JD. We'll take our breath tomorrow, and we will be back at it with roster building next week.”
The Browns sat out Thursday's night's opening round. They didn't have a first-round pick because they traded the 13th overall selection to the Texans in mid-March as part of the haul for Watson, who's facing 22 active civil lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massage appointments.
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The decision to draft Emerson was surprising because the Browns were deep at cornerback. It made more sense Saturday when Berry traded nickelback Troy Hill to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2023 fifth-round draft pick.
The Browns drafting Ford in the fifth round had a similar feel because they're loaded at running back with stars Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, promising third-stringer D'Ernest Johnson and versatile 2021 sixth-round pick Demetric Felton Jr.
"I'd say we'll deal with it day by day,” Berry said. “You do want to go to camp with a good number there, and I think that's an area that we think we not only have quantity but quality. We'll see how it shakes out. We've got five months until we're playing, so I don't know."
Tendered as a restricted free agent last month, Johnson could become the odd man out, unless it ends up being Hunt coming off an injury-plagued 2021 season.
"I wouldn't touch on any individual contract situation,” Berry said. “We still think very highly of D'Ernest, and we would anticipate him being here moving forward, but we'll see."
Felton primarily played receiver last season as a rookie, but scout Max Paulus said, “Demetric will be in the running back room moving forward.”
Coach Kevin Stefanski said, “Demetric is a football player, so he'll certainly spend time with the running backs and just see how it shakes out over the next few weeks.”
Reviewing Browns GM Andrew Berry's other trades in the 2022 NFL Draft
When Berry traded the 44th overall pick in Round 2, he received the following package from the Texans: the 68th selection he used on Emerson and two more choices in the fourth round (Nos. 108 and 124) that he spent on Winfrey and York.
The Texans drafted Alabama receiver John Metchie III at No. 44 overall.
Berry shipped a fourth-round pick (No. 118 overall) to Adofo-Mensah for the fifth-round choice (No. 156) the Browns used on Ford and a fourth-round selection next year. The Vikings drafted Missouri cornerback Akayleb Evans at No. 118.
"That was a fun one,” Berry said of dealing with Adofo-Mensah. “I'll be honest, we had a couple discussions — probably had maybe three or four separate discussions throughout the weekend about a couple trades. It was finally nice to actually execute one with him. That was good."
After the recent trades Berry made, the Browns have eight picks in the 2023 draft.
Wheeling and dealing: Browns trade cornerback Troy Hill to Rams for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL Draft
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns made 2022 NFL Draft trades, but not with Baker Mayfield