Panthers still pondering trade for Baker Mayfield; Browns not locked onto a WR or DL ​​at 44: Browns Insider

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Carolina Panthers were still doing their due diligence on a possible Baker Mayfield trade on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, a league source told cleveland.com.

The Panthers left the door open for a Mayfield trade when they passed on Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Liberty’s Malik Willis in Friday’s first round and drafted offensive tackle instead of Ickey Ekwonu. As they head into Day 2, they won’t have a second- or third-round pick, and will have plenty of time to work out a deal for Mayfield.

They’ll also consider climbing back into Round 2 or 3 and drafting one of the college QBs. With Pickett the Lone QB drafted in the first round – by the Steelers at No. 20 – The rest of the class is still available, including Willis, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, North Carolina’s Sam Howell and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder.

The Panthers must be drafting an unproven prospect against a proven winner like Mayfield, who led the Browns to an 11-5 record in 2020 and a victory over the Steelers in the wild card round. The Panthers, who were originally not interested in Mayfield largely because current starter Sam Darnold has the same fully-guaranteed $ 18.86 million fifth-year option salary for 2022, must be convinced that Mayfield was himself last season because of the torn labrum. his left shoulder.

Ahead of the schedule, his rehab from the Jan. 19 surgery, Mayfield has been getting good medical reports and reviews on where he is at. If he continues on this trajectory, he’ll be ready to go training camp in July and start the season in September.

But the Panthers must decide if they want two matching $ 18.86 million salaries on the book for the No. 1 pick in 2018 in Mayfield, and the no. 3 pick in Darnold. The Panthers are also considering a trade for the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s recovering from surgery on his right shoulder but said last week he would be ready for training camp in July.

With no second- or third-round pick in this draft, the Panthers will have to borrow from future years for a veteran. That would be good for the Browns, who surrendered six picks for Deshaun Watson – three first-rounders, a third-rounder in 2022, a third-rounder in 2023 and a fourth in 2024.

Other teams have expressed interest in Mayfield, and it would behoove the Browns to engage in a few of them in a bidding war. Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported on Friday that the Texans may have some interest in Mayfield even though he was not discussed as part of the compensation package for Watson.

But some of the interested teams may opt for a college prospect on Day 2, including the Seahawks, who have the 40th and 41st picks. The Seahawks, who traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos, have inquired about Mayfield but don’t want to pay $ 18.86 million. They might opt ​​for Willis or another rookie, or package them and trade up.

Some teams believe the Browns will get desperate and release Mayfield, but they have no plans to do so.

The draft pick’s compensation will depend on how much of Mayfield’s salary the Browns are willing to pick up, and that is something that could extend into Saturday or Sunday.

In the meantime, Mayfield is ready for anything, including remaining a member of the Browns for the time being.

Browns keeping options open

When Browns GM Andrew Berry says he doesn’t need a draft, he means it. His first two drafts worked out in such a way that his biggest need matched up with the best player on the board, but he was always poised to take the highest-rated player, even if it meant doubling up at a position.

With that in mind, he could surprise at No. 44 and grab something other than a receiver or defensive lineman. To be sure, there are plenty of good ones available at both spots.

Some of the best receivers on the board are Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore, Georgia’s George Pickens, South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce, North Dakota State’s Christian Watson, Purdue’s David Bell and Alabama’s John Metchie III.

Some of the best edge-rushers remaining are USC’s Drake Jackson, Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas, Western Kentucky’s DeAngelo Malone and Minnesota’s Boye Mafe.

Intriguing tackles include Houston’s Logan Hall, Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, and Connecticut’s Travis Jones.

But there are other positions the Browns could have rated highly on their board that they could grab at No. 44, including cornerback, safety, tight end and offensive tackle. The 33rd Team Website Has Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. As their top remaining cornerback, Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker is the top safety, and Colorado State’s Trey McBride as the top tight end. One of the best remaining offensive tackles is Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann.

Berry has repeatedly stated that he’ll resist the temptation to fill holes, and draft the top athlete on the board. It ‘s a strategy most of the best drafting teams adhere to. It’s also why teams like the Steelers and Ravens stock their defense year after year.

Pickens is currently available, possibly because of the red flags

Receiver-needy teams such as the Packers and Chiefs passed on Pickens late in the first round, and character concerns may be part of the reason. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman spoke to coaches and scouts who criticized the big, fast wideout who tore his ACL in 2020 and played only four games last season. One receivers coach told Feldman that Pickens has “a lot of growing up to do” and added “there’s just so many red flags, and they’re big red flags.” A scout also deemed him his top boom-or-bust candidate, saying, “There’s a lot of upside, but he can’t get out of his own way.”

If the Browns pass at Pickens at 44, the character could be a factor.

What about LSU kicker Cade York?

The Browns have done their diligence on the big-legged York, but are unlikely to reach him in the third round. They’ll either trade up to the fourth round if they want to prevent someone from grabbing him, or wait and hope he falls into the fifth. Either way, the Browns need York and should try to grab him somewhere.

What about Memphis WR Calvin Austin III?

The Browns interviewed Austin at the Senior Bowl and liked him, but didn’t bring him in for one of their top 30 visits. That could be because they signed the similarly-undersized but speedy Jakeem Grant to return kicks and play receiver. The second round may be too high for Austin, but they should consider him in the third. He’s a smaller version of Tyreek Hill, and is definitely a culture fit: smart, tough, accountable.

Roger Goodell on Deshaun Watson investigation

Goodell re-iterated to draft ESPN before what he said last month at the NFL Annual Meeting about Deshaun Watson: The NFL is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct from 24 massage therapists (22 of whom have filed civil suits) “very seriously “and that the investigation is ongoing. He repeated that there was no timetable for possible disciplinary action, which would be determined by former US District Court Judge Sue L. Robinson.

Cleveland.com asked Goodell at the meeting last month if investigators, led by the NFL’s Lisa Friel, will interview more than 10 accusers that they already have, and indicate that they will. They’ll also interview Watson before deciding on a possible fine, suspension, or both, so it could take a while.

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