Barnwell’s winners, losers of the Baker Mayfield trade: Making sense of the deal for the Browns, Panthers

    Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com.

Most trade rumors don’t take six months to consummate, but the Cleveland Browns finally solved their Baker Mayfield problem on Wednesday. Stuck with a $18.6 million quarterback they didn’t want and who didn’t want to play for the organization any further, a Mayfield trade seemed inevitable. Finally, just weeks before training camps open, the deal is done: Mayfield is off to join the Carolina Panthers for a 2024 conditional fifth-round pick (can become a fourth-rounder, depending on Mayfield’s play time).

It’s no surprise that we got here, since no one was happy with their situation. The Browns wanted to shed as much of Mayfield’s salary as possible with a deal. After the team’s trade for Deshaun Watson, Mayfield wanted an opportunity to start elsewhere. And the Panthers have spent the entirety of the Matt Rhule era hunting for a quarterback. With the Seahawks as the only other team realistically in the market for a veteran starter, the Panthers were well-positioned to wait out the negotiations and extract a reasonable price.

Did they succeed? Let’s run through the winners and losers from this deal, both in terms of the direct parties involved and who else will be impacted around the NFL.

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