The Seattle Seahawks and Baker Mayfield may be an ideal match in a wide-open NFC, plus takeaways from the NFL owners meetings, reaction to new overtime rule, and much more
The assumption when the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos earlier this month was that Seattle was turning the page to a full-fledged rebuild, but if Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have any designs on competing in a post-Wilson world, all it might take is a phone call.
“There’s no doubt that Baker Mayfield is Seattle’s best option,” an NFC personnel executive tells FanSided, on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about other teams. “He’s only 26 years old.
“Is he a headstrong guy? Is he a prideful guy? Absolutely, bigger than life, and that’s alright. Pete Carroll can corral that in. That’s what he’s good at.”
Seattle certainly fits the bill of a team that could be in the market for Mayfield, even after acquiring underachieving former second-round pick Drew Lock in the Wilson blockbuster. And with $15 million in cap space, pairing Mayfield with the likes of receivers D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and rising tight end Noah Fant, could jumpstart its playoff hopes in a wide-open NFC.
For Mayfield, there’s no turning back to Cleveland.
Not after his letter thanking the fans for their support during his time there since being chosen No. 1 overall in 2018, and certainly not after the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson and handed him $230 million guaranteed over the next five seasons.
For the Browns, the market has essentially dried up. Only three chairs remain open in the wildest game of offseason quarterback musical chairs we’ve seen in recent memory.
The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are well-positioned inside the top-10 of next month’s draft to make a run at top quarterback prospects Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett. That may leave Seattle as the only truly quarterback-desperate team remaining in the Baker Mayfield market.
Mayfield, for all of the disappointment of this past season, and the injury to his non-throwing shoulder, still has plenty of upside.
Through his first 60 games, Mayfield has averaged 3,531 yards with 23 touchdowns to 14 interceptions per season.
Should Mayfield, who helped break Cleveland’s 18-year playoff drought, land with the supporting cast Seattle has in place, his best may still be to come.
“I’m a fan of him. I think he’s going to be a good player. Wherever he ends up, I think Baker has the chance to be the Comeback Player of The Year. Two years ago, he went to Pittsburgh and won a playoff game, almost beat Kansas City in Kansas City in the Divisional round, and that was just two years ago. Guys don’t just get bad.”
Mayfield has, in the eyes of fans and some in the media, certainly developed a reputation for being brash. Cocky, even. But, the reality is that teammates love playing for him, they joke at times about his commercials where he lives inside FirstEnergy Stadium, but genuinely enjoy playing for him.
But, in terms of on-the-field situations and getting the most out of a fiery player like Mayfield, there may not be anyone better suited than Carroll and the program he’s built in the Emerald City.
“They brought in Marshawn Lynch and he was a wild man, and they calmed his ass down,” the executive says. “That’s the environment in that building. That’s Pete. He gets guys to do their jobs. From a talent standpoint, I’d take Baker over anyone who’s out there, in a heartbeat.”
If Carroll agrees with the executive’s assessment, and the Seahawks view Mayfield as an upgrade over Lock that they just have to have, there may be some hurdles both sides need to clear in order for Mayfield to back the Uhaul Truck up to Lumen Field.
In order for any deal to be made, the Browns would likely need to agree to eat some of Mayfield’s remaining $18.9 million in 2022, but Cleveland has little additional leverage.
“I could see Baker getting moved on draft night,” the executive says. “If both quarterbacks are gone, they don’t need to give up a lot, and wind up with the quarterback they want, it could be a win-win for Cleveland if they get any significant compensation because of the situation they put themselves in.”
“There’s been some speculation that Cleveland would need to send a pick along with Baker in any deal,” former NFL Executive of The Year Randy Mueller tells FanSided. “Especially in order for Seattle to take the cap hit. I think it comes down to how much Cleveland is willing to pay his salary.
“If the Browns pay enough of it, they could probably get a late day-three pick for Baker, from a team like the Seahawks.”
The Browns also didn’t exactly put Mayfield in a position to reach peak success.
Sure, with running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt the Browns had one of the premier running games in the league the past two seasons, and the duo of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. was among the most electrifying in the NFL. But, Mayfield has already been through four head coaches and three offensive schemes.
Seattle could provide Mayfield some welcomed stability … and plenty of weapons.
“Being around Pete Carroll would teach Baker how to be a pro’s pro,” the executive says. “With all the changes in Cleveland, from head coaches and coordinators, it’s been a whirlwind. That’s tough. This would be a fresh start.”
Biggest takeaways from NFL’s annual meeting
Changes to the overtime rule in the playoffs are the most tangible news to come out of the NFL’s annual meeting in Palm Beach, Fla. this week (more on that below — Final Thought), but coaches and general managers from across the league offered some fascinating insight into the states of their teams.
- Aaron Donald returning significantly bolsters Rams’ repeat chances
There was some talk following the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals last month that after applying the pressure that forced Joe Burrow’s final pass to fall incomplete and the confetti to swirl that Aaron Donald might retire. But, not only does it sound like Donald is locked in for a ninth NFL season but the Rams are in contract talks on an extension that would make him one of the highest-paid players in the league.
“Well, it’s a huge priority for us,” McVay said, via Pro Football Network.
As one executive recently told FanSided, “Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller are luxuries, but keeping Donald is the Rams’ top priority.
It sounds like Los Angeles has the chance to keep Donald for a very long time. And in a conference where only seven quarterbacks have won a playoff game, as long as Donald is wreaking havoc, the Rams are going to be tough to beat.
- Bob Kraft, Patriots’ uphill climb
Robert Kraft told reporters at The Breakers that it “bothers him” that the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game in the past three seasons.
The climb back to the AFC’s summit may never have been steeper for the Patriots.
Not only do the Patriots, with Mac Jones, likely have to beat one of Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, or Russell Wilson to earn their first postseason win since falling to the Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship Game, but the road within the division has gotten even tougher for New England.
Buffalo boasts one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, led by Allen behind center, the Dolphins have loaded up on playmakers this offseason, and according to Pro Football Focus’ Index, all three of the Patriots’ division rivals have improved this offseason. Markedly.
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) March 23, 2022
Unless Jones takes major strides in his second season, it’s difficult envisioning the Patriots ending their postseason drought anytime soon.
- Is Deshaun Watson suspension coming?
Roger Goodell told reporters Tuesday that the league has no plans to use the commissioner’s exempt list when it comes to any disciplinary action against Deshaun Watson, because two grand juries did not find evidence to charge him criminally in the wake of 22 credible allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
The exempt list was bargained between the league and the NFLPA to be used in the instance of criminal investigations into players, but that doesn’t mean a suspension isn’t looming for Watson.
Some sources believe Watson could face a suspension upwards of 8-12 weeks, as the new Browns quarterback faces 22 ongoing civil lawsuits stemming from the allegations against him. Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games in 2010 following rape allegations against the former Steelers quarterback. Watson could be in line for a similar or an even lengthier one, depending on what the NFL’s investigation turns up in relation to the personal conduct policy.
“As far as exact ways we’ll use Tyreek Hill relative to the way Deebo Samuel was used in San Francisco, there’s probably going to be some overlap to some degree on San Francisco.”
– Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel on how he plans to use Tyreek Hill, via the Palm Beach Post
Last week, in a continuation of the NFL’s wide receiver spending spree, the Dolphins acquired Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for five draft picks, landing what many inside the league to be a top-five position player.
Hill is an ideal scheme fit for myriad reasons with the Dolphins. Especially when considering Tua Tagovailoa averaged only 6.8 air yards per attempt and the speedy wideout just dropped into Miami’s offense averaged four yards after the catch per reception, and is one of the most lethal weapons after the catch in the league.
But, what made Miami an ideal landing spot for Hill and a tailor made weapon for the Dolphins’ scheme is the fact that he becomes a Swiss Army knife in McDaniel’s system and can be used various ways, including in a similar fashion to how the 49ers have deployed Deebo Samuel.
Samuel averaged 6.2 yards per rushing attempt last season, and a whopping 10.2 Yards After The Catch Per Reception.
McDaniel and the Dolphins would certainly sign up for similar production in a similar role from Hill.
As if Hill stretching the field opposite Jaylen Waddle or running a shallow crosser with tight end Mike Gesicki isn’t difficult enough for a defense to defend, the 28-year-old taking a handoff out of the shotgun or throwing a pass off a handoff, or breaking a bit run off an end-around.
Hill arrives in South Beach a versatile weapon, and McDaniel may be the ideal coach to use him to create mismatches in several different ways.
The NFL [finally] got its overtime rule correct.
Tuesday during the annual league meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., owners approved the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts’ joint proposal to award both team a possession in overtime … In the postseason.
The new rule creates a fairer overtime structure in the postseason, where each team has the opportunity in a league that is now tilted significantly in favor of the defense to possess the ball and try to score, while also not adding to the amount of snaps played during the regular season which could create added injury risk.
It sure feels like the NFL threaded the needle here.
Don’t just take my word for it …
“I like the new rule a lot,” an NFC West player tells FanSided. “But, the rule that proposed that the second team to score has to go for two to make sure the game doesn’t drag on and more snaps get tacked onto the game would have been even better.”
There might be one loophole that could come into play, however, that the NFL may not have accounted for.
Since there’s no real reason to extend the game any longer than necessary in the regular season, and the NFL now has adjusted to give both teams equal chances of winning in the postseason, what happens in, say, Week 18 if a game is tied that carries significant postseason implications for either team?
It would seem unlikely, but there’s a chance sometime in the future a team will have lost on the first possession of overtime in Week 18 that costs them a playoff berth, and maybe then the rule will need to be examined again.
But, in the meantime, detractors to changing the overtime at all will argue that if a team would only make a stop on defense that they would have just as much of a chance to win the game, if not a better one, under the old system, that’s more of a straw man argument that doesn’t hold up against current trends.
For far too long, overtime games have been decided by the coin toss winner. Over the past 12 games that went to overtime in the past decade, the team that won the toss were 10-2 and seven of them won it on the opening possession of the extra frame. Additionally, offenses have scored touchdowns on their opening possession twice in the past four years.
This is why only one team in the past 36 years has won the overtime coin toss and elected to play defense, rather than send its offense out on the field.
Moreover, though, this isn’t a rule that is going to drastically change the postseason or impact the vast majority of games.
Since the 1965 season, only 32 playoff games have gone to overtime.
Now, those games that get to the extra frame beginning this postseason will put far less weight on whether a coin lands heads or tails up, and far more on what actually happens between the lines. On both sides of the ball.