The NFL may be kicking off its summer hiatus with teams off until training camp begins in late July.
But that doesn’t mean the ever-churning NFL rumor mill has stopped.
Wednesday afternoon brought another one involving the Seahawks, about a familiar topic in Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
CBS Sports NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweeted Wednesday that she has been told that “the Seahawks still have a high-level of interest in acquiring” Mayfield and that “behind-the-scenes are open to contractually extending him, per league source.” She further tweeted that “I know that the process of collecting information and insights into Mayfield is still ongoing.”
None of what Anderson tweeted contradicts anything that has been known for some time.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said numerous times in the last few months that the Seahawks will continue to consider all options at quarterback.
The Seahawks undoubtedly would be open to extending Mayfield because the only way they – or any other team – will take him on is with a contract other than the one he currently has, which is guaranteed for $18.8 million this season.
The Seahawks have $16.3 million in cap space for the 2022 season, meaning they couldn’t even fit in Mayfield’s contract if they wanted.
That contract is the reason nothing has happened with Mayfield, who became expendable when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson.
While the tweet was understandably attention getting, all indications Wednesday were that nothing has changed with the Seahawks’ stance regarding Mayfield.
The Seahawks would be interested in Mayfield if he is released or possibly for a draft pick if the Browns were to take on a significant portion of Mayfield’s contract.
It’s thought that for now, teams which might be interested in Mayfield continue to wait hoping the Browns will eventually release him.
Reports in April stated that the Browns and Carolina Panthers had trade talks regarding Mayfield, but those broke down when the Browns would not agree to pay as much of Mayfield’s salary as the Panthers wanted.
There also remains some thought that the Browns are playing hardball with teams about Mayfield while Waton’s status for the 2022 season remains unknown. The NFL is continuing to investigate the sexual harassment and assault allegations made against Watson, and it has been reported the league could announce a significant suspension before training camp.
The Browns signed veteran free agent Jacoby Brissett in the spring as a backup for Watson and possible hedge against a suspension. But if Watson were to be suspended for a significant period, reports indicate that the Browns could try to mend fences with Mayfield and have him play in 2022.
Anderson referred to the uncertainty of the Browns’ situation with Watson in a tweet posted about a half-hour after her initial one about Mayfield and the Seahawks, writing “after we hear from the league on announcements we’re all waiting to learn, naturally Baker Mayfield’s situation with the Browns, intentions for the season and his desires will grow more into focus.”
In other words, things may stay on hold with Mayfield until any announcement is made about Watson, unless the Browns get the kind of offer they want from some other team.
The Seahawks have three quarterbacks on their roster in Geno Smith, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason. Realistically, the QB competition is a two-man battle between Smith – the backup for Russell Wilson the last three years – and Lock, who was acquired in the trade that sent Wilson to Denver.
Carroll has said throughout the offseason program that Smith is atop the depth chart because of his experience, but that no decision on who will be the starter will be made until deep into training camp and the preseason.
The Seahawks have two open spots on its 90-man roster after waiving offensive lineman Pier-Olivier Lestage on Wednesday, and could easily add another QB.
Carroll said at the league meetings in March that he expected the Seahawks to have four quarterbacks on its roster in 2022.
Could that be Mayfield? For now, that question appears to have the same answer as it has all along – if he’s released, or if the Browns want to take on most/all of his salary, the Seahawks could be interested.