Trevor Bauer’s MLB Suspension Could Impact Baker Mayfield’s Future in NFL

Bauer looms over the NFL’s Deshaun Watson investigation and could influence what the Browns do with their former starting QB

Ex-Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield greets a former player
Baker Mayfield is still on the Cleveland Browns, and maybe for good reason.
Brian Bahr/Getty

It’s impossible to know at this juncture how things will play out, but there is a decent possibility that Trevor Bauer’s upcoming arbitration hearing regarding his unprecedented two-year suspension under MLB’s domestic violence policy could have an impact on current Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s future in the NFL.

Beginning Monday, Bauer’s suspension appeal will be heard by a three-person panel chaired by independent arbitrator Martin Scheinman. During the proceedings, Bauer will seek to convince the panel that his two-year suspension from commissioner Rob Manfred, which will cost the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher about $60 million of his $102 million contract if unchanged, is too harsh and should be reduced.

What does that have to do with Mayfield? Well, the NFL will probably be monitoring what happens with Bauer as the league is currently conducting an investigation into more than 20 allegations of sexual misconduct levied against Mayfield’s replacement in Cleveland, Deshaun Watson. Watson, who was not indicted on criminal charges based on the allegations, is currently facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging both sexual misconduct and sexual assault.

While it is unlikely that the NFL would suspend a star player like Watson, who sat out last season in the wake of the allegations but collected his salary while seeking a trade from the Houston Texans, for multiple years, the league could opt to follow MLB’s lead and take harsh action against Watson even though there are no criminal charges. If Bauer’s suspension appeal is unsuccessful, that could give the NFL more confidence in severely disciplining Watson.

“Baseball has made it clear the decision was made on the merit of its own investigation and interviews with the women who have made allegations against Bauer,” according to Yahoo Sports. “That’s essentially the same space the NFL is occupying with Watson. The league has already conducted interviews with multiple women who have filed civil lawsuits against him and it has the depositions and discovery from civil proceedings that MLB didn’t, which can aid whatever decision ultimately comes down the pipeline. In theory, the NFL should have more information than baseball ever did with Bauer. That will create some pressure on the NFL from an optics standpoint.”

If that pressure mounts to the point that Watson, who received a fully guaranteed $230 million contract after being traded to the Texans, is suspended for a significant amount of time, the Browns are going to need someone to play quarterback for their team. It would be awkward as all hell, but that someone could end up being Mayfield, which is probably the reason he is still on Cleveland’s roster despite carrying a fully guaranteed $18.858 million salary. The Browns will still be on the hook for some of that cash if they trade Mayfield, but clearing some of that money off of their books would certainly be helpful. Unless the Browns think there’s a chance they’ll need Mayfield, which is probably a reason why he’s still in Cleveland and not a Carolina Panther or Seattle Seahawk.

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