Baker Mayfield has himself a new home in the NFL after the Panthers struck a deal with the Browns on Wednesday that’ll send the former No. 1 overall pick to Carolina. Cleveland receives a conditional fifth-round pick for Mayfield, while also eating a chunk of the quarterback’s salary for the 2022 season. It’s all but certain that Mayfield will be the Panthers’ starter to begin the year and that’s where the true spice to this trade is found.
As fate would have it, the Panthers will open up the regular season hosting the Cleveland Browns at Bank of America Stadium in Week 1. So, Mayfield’s first official game in a Panthers uniform is set to be against the club that decided to move off of him this offseason. And he’ll be a home dog when he does it.
According to the odds at Caesars Sportsbook, the Browns re-opened as a -1 (-110) road favorite against the Panthers following this Mayfield trade. Carolina is also +105 on the moneyline for this matchup.
Given the revenge narrative, there may be a decent amount of action on the Panthers to pull off the upset. However, that wager does come with risk at this point in the offseason as the status of Deshaun Watson is still unclear. The Browns quarterback just finished a hearing where disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson will now go over arguments made by Watson’s representation and the NFL and make a ruling on possible punishment for his off-the-field issues that included up to 24 sexual misconduct lawsuits being filed against him.
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If Robinson goes with the NFL’s suggestion of an indefinite suspension of at least one year, Watson will not be going toe-to-toe with Mayfield in Week 1 and Jacoby Brissett would likely get the nod instead. That scenario would give Carolina a much greater chance of pulling off this upset as the odds are currently constructed and it also wouldn’t be surprising to see the odds shift in Carolina’s favor once the official word comes down. Meanwhile, if Watson walks away with no punishment, that spread will likely balloon to a bigger number with the chances of an upset less likely.
Really, it depends on what you think is going to happen with Watson. If you believe a suspension is certain, there’s value in taking Carolina ML while it’s a plus money. If you think Watson skates or you have faith in Brissett to keep the ship afloat, laying a point now at -110 could be a route worth exploring.
No matter which way the Watson ruling comes down, however, it’s a guarantee that Mayfield is going to be as motivated as ever to show his former team what they’re missing out of the gate.