The Panthers fired quarterback Baker Mayfield on Monday. All teams have until 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday to file a waiver claim on the balance of Mayfield’s contract.
It’s five games with a total financial investment of $1.349 million.
There are three categories of teams that might be interested. First teams that want him to play this year. Second, teams wanting to take the opportunity to spend five weeks with him to see if they should try to sign him for 2023. Third teams who want to stop him from ending up with a rival.
With that in mind, here are the teams you might want to keep an eye on, in order of waiver priority.
Texans: They could have gotten Mayfield as part of the Deshaun Watson deal, but they didn’t want Mayfield. But at this point, he should be making $19.9 million for the full year. At $1.349 million for five games, why not take on him? Also, GM Nick Caserio was in New England when the Patriots appeared interested in Mayfield ahead of the 2018 draft.
Rams: Matthew Stafford is on IR. John Wolford is the backup. Their next four games are slated for high-profile, nationally televised standalone spots. The league office is likely hoping the Rams make a claim as it gives people a reason to watch games that wouldn’t be able to watch otherwise.
Broncos: George Paton was working for the Vikings when GM Rick Spielman took a flyer about Josh Freeman after being cut by the Buccaneers. Why did Spielman do this? Because there aren’t enough franchise quarterbacks in the NFL. If you have a chance to possibly get one, grab it. Of course, Russell Wilson’s point of view makes that a little trickier. But what if Mayfield is currently a better player than Wilson? That would have sounded crazy three months ago. Not today.
Saints: Andy Dalton is the starter for now. Who will take over next year? Why not invite Mayfield for a five week assessment? Given that a healthy Jameis Winston is just hanging around, they could add Mayfield and forego Jameis.
Colts: During that off-season podcast with the dog on the couch next to him, Mayfield mentioned the Colts as a possible target. The podcast was taped before the Colts landed Matt Ryan. On the one hand, Jeff Saturday wants to do well enough to get the job. On the other hand, the Colts would certainly love to put Ryan back in bubble wrap and avoid owing him another $17 million next year if he can’t pass a physical by mid-March. Also, it would be part of the broader quarterback rating for 2023.
Falcons: Why not see what Mayfield can do as a potential 2023 option (or a guy who can downplay the track)? Marcus Mariota will probably not be there next year. Desmond Ridder is still unproven.
Raiders: Coach Josh McDaniels coached Mayfield just before the 2018 draft. Yes, Derek Carr has played extremely well over the past few weeks. But if McDaniels sees something in Mayfield why not bring him in to see what he can do now, at least in practice.
Lions: John Dorsey drafted Mayfield in 2018 while Dorsey was in Cleveland. He’s in Detroit now. Rick Spielman’s brother Chris is in the front office. Between Dorsey’s knowledge of Mayfield and Rick’s take on franchise quarterbacks, why not bring him in and get to know him? Jared Goff played well, but not well enough to slam the door on a game with Mayfield.
Patriots: You had an interest in Mayfield before the 2018 draft and wormed your way into late practice. From the perspective of paying $1.3 million and possibly getting an additional compensating draft pick consideration if he goes free, it could be worth adding him to the roster for the rest of the season.
Buccaneers: When Bruce Arians considered becoming a coach again, he named the Browns as the only team he would join. At the time, Mayfield was a rookie. With the position unsettled for 2023, does it make sense to sit on Mayfield with the goal of signing him after the season? Maybe it does.
Commanders: They’re clearly looking for a long-term answer on the position. It’s an inexpensive way to evaluate a possible Carson Wentz/Taylor Heinicke successor. Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese also filled that role in Cleveland during Mayfield’s very good rookie year. His departure was believed to be one of the main reasons behind Mayfield’s regression in 2019.
Seahawks: At one point, the Seahawks were considered the favorite to trade for him. You don’t need him as a player right now. But filing a waiver claim could stop the 49ers from getting him.
Giants: Daniel Jones to become a free agent. Who will their quarterback be in 2023? However, Mayfield’s claim would likely end the pursuit of OBJ immediately.
Ravens: Bringing Mayfield into town is probably too awkward given the uncertainty with Lamar Jackson. But with Lamar currently struggling with a knee injury week in and week out, and with starter Tyler Huntley and the playoffs on the record, why not seek a five-game loan — along with the compensatory back-end choice?
49ers: Coach Kyle Shanahan seemed to indicate Monday that the 49ers are okay with what they have. But there would be no reason for him to speak openly about any interest. The possible manipulations aside, Shanahan would invite a team like the Seahawks to make the claim and stop Mayfield from landing there.
Chiefs: Mayfield is highly unlikely to make it that low on the priority list, but wouldn’t it make sense to have Mayfield as an understudy to Patrick Mahomes, not Chad Henne? Mayfield gave the Chiefs everything they could handle in the 2020 playoffs and the first week of the 2021 season — a week before he ruined his season and career by injuring his shoulder while trying to make a tackle .