It's been a wild few weeks on the NFL quarterback market and things aren't set to settle down any time soon. Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz are already in different uniforms. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be traded before the NFL Draft at the end of April. Deshaun Watson talks are heating up after a hiatus resulting from his legal issues. Then, last night, Baker Mayfield posted a cryptic message on his social media platforms that sure looks like a farewell to the city of Cleveland.
There were rumblings earlier in the offseason that Mayfield is at odds with the Browns' front office and the team may try to shoot for an upgrade over the former No. 1 overall pick. They obviously lost out on Wilson and Aaron Rodgers decided to stay put in Green Bay. The only recent rumor we've heard is that the Browns are in on the Watson talks, but there is nothing definitive on that front. Still, the tone of Mayfield's message suggests a trade is inevitable.
This led Chris Simms to state that, if he had to choose, he'd rather have Mayfield over the other QB who will inevitably be traded this offseason-- Garoppolo.
The latter half of that tweet is quite a claim. For all of Garoppolo's well-covered flaws, he was good enough to help lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and an NFC Championship Game appearance in the two seasons he was mostly healthy under Kyle Shanahan. He had lots of help between Shanahan's offense, the playmakers at his disposal, and the dangerous defense. But Garoppolo had to make the right throws at the right moment in the most important time of the season for consecutive games, and he did.
Could Mayfield do the same? Maybe. We probably won't find out. Is Mayfield better than Garoppolo? Right now, it's a toss-up. Mayfield has more arm talent, which is part of the reason why he went No. 1 overall as opposed to going in the late second round like Garoppolo. Mayfield showed he can play playoff-caliber football last season, leading Cleveland to their first playoff win in decades. But his resume in that department still pales in comparison to Jimmy G.
Most would probably agree with Simms that they'd rather have Mayfield over Garoppolo, all other things equal. For all his flaws, Mayfield hasn't even gotten a second contract yet. Garoppolo is on the last year of his and is pretty much a finished product at this point. He has no room to grow. Mayfield certainly does. His physical limitations in terms of his ability to throw deep outs and ins may not change. But it is difficult to gauge how far along Mayfield is in his development when the environment around him has been so tumultuous his whole career. This past season was the first season in which Mayfield played a consecutive year under one head coach. Who knows what he'd look like if he had spent the last four seasons under Shanahan like Garoppolo has?
As a result, Mayfield is more of a wild card than Garoppolo. And his reputation is not in a great place after the OBJ debacle. The vague farewell message before any news had gained traction won't help. Teams know what they're getting in Jimmy G. That isn't the case with Mayfield. How the next few months unfold will reveal how similar teams are thinking to Simms.