AFC Notes: Baker Mayfield, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


  • One NFC executive predicted the Browns would trade QB Baker Mayfield this offseason, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. They believe Mayfield and HC Kevin Stefanski can repair their relationship: “But at the end of the day, it’s not a great fit. He’d be best in a shotgun, up-tempo offense like they have in Arizona. The Browns will get rid of the only good quarterback they’ve had in years and fall into the same traps of the past.”
  • According to the Akron Beacon-Journal’s Nate Ulrich, the team is highly unlikely to retain DL Malik McDowell as an exclusive rights free agent after he was arrested on charges of public exposure, assaulting a deputy, and resisting arrest
  • Mayfield had surgery Wednesday to repair the torn labrum on his left shoulder, performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Orr Limpisvasti of the Anaheim Ducks. (Jake Trotter)
  • The Browns declared $10,598,329 in unused cap space to roll over for 2021, though this figure will be audited for incentives by the NFL before becoming official. (Field Yates)


  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec notes that if Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley and OT Ja’Wuan James return to full health, the Ravens have a pretty solid tackle situation. That’s a lot of ifs, though, and they should prepare alternatives for both. 
  • Zrebiec expects the Ravens to release OT Alejandro Villanueva to create $6 million in cap space. 
  • The Week 18 Achilles injury for OLB Tyus Bowser moves pass rusher up the list of needs for the Ravens, per Zrebiec. It’s not certain Bowser will be ready for the start of next season. 
  • Zrebiec says the Ravens need an infusion of youth and talent on their defensive line with Calais Campbell mulling retirement and DT Brandon Williams a potential cap casualty. He adds the Ravens might not cut DL Derek Wolfe since it wouldn’t clear much cap space but it’s hard to project a big role for him given he missed the entire season due to injury. 
  • While the Ravens love pending free-agent S DeShon Elliott, they’ve been on the lookout for a ball-hawking safety for years and won’t mind trying to upgrade, per Zrebiec. 
  • Cornerback was obviously a weakness for the Ravens but Zrebiec thinks getting healthy will solve a lot of those issues. Still, he wouldn’t rule out a corner being the pick with the Ravens’ first pick at No. 14. Anthony Averett may have priced himself out of town, Jimmy Smith might retire and Tavon Young is a cap cut candidate. 
  • Zrebiec notes the Ravens have interesting negotiations coming up with pending free agent C Bradley Bozeman and FB Patrick Ricard, who are both key players for Baltimore but play non-premium positions. 
  • He adds the Ravens might also have to make linebacker a higher priority than expected given how Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison have yet to take a step forward to solidify the position. 


  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly writes that if the Steelers don’t trade for a high-profile veteran, which he deems unlikely, all signs point to Mason Rudolph entering training camp in 2022 as the favorite to start at quarterback. 
  • Kaboly adds if the Steelers keep OC Matt Canada, that also is a good sign for Rudolph. Rudolph had positive words about their working relationship: “We had a great time last year being together in the quarterback room. Anytime that you have a rapport with somebody, I think it makes it easier to call plays and have a feel for what I like. He’s done a good job, and we have a good line of communication.”
  • Other low-cost options to keep an eye out for, per Kaboly, would be a trade for Eagles backup QB Gardner Minshew or signing Raiders backup QB Marcus Mariota in free agency. He adds not to rule out Dwayne Haskins from coming back and winning the job if he’s taken a step forward. 
  • The prevailing opinion in league circles, however, is that the Steelers will draft a quarterback. (Jeremy Fowler)
  • Steelers WR Diontae Johnson seemed to call out the offensive play-calling when asked about what went wrong for the team against the Chiefs: “Certain things weren’t going our way. Certain playcalls, we just weren’t getting that we wanted to get the offense going. We can only do what we’re told to do at the end of the day.” (SteelersWire)
  • Steelers veteran DT Tyson Alualu, who is entering the final year of his contract, said he plans to play next season and isn’t considering retirement. (Kaboly)
  • Rudolph is excited about heading into 2022 “not have to worry about stepping on the toes” of QB Ben Roethlisberger. (Brooke Pryor)
  • Rudolph on his chance to start in the wake of Roethlisberger 2022: “It’s a great feeling. All I want is a chance to compete and be the guy here. That’s more of a possibility now than ever…(before) as long as Ben’s healthy, he’s playing.” (Pryor)
  • Rudolph also said what his approach would be this offseason in an attempt to get ready to start: “I’m going to have a ‘screw it’ mentality. I’m going to empty the tank and have no regrets.” (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Haskins said he was told he will have the chance to compete to start in 2022 as well. (Pryor

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