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With Mayfield emergence, should Browns trade Taylor?

By MARY KAY CABOT • Updated Sep 26, 2018 at 11:46 PM

BEREA — With Baker Mayfield taking over as the Browns' starting quarterback, the club should try to trade Tyrod Taylor to the 49ers or someone else that needs a quarterback over the next few weeks.

The 49ers, who have lost Jimmy Garoppolo for the season to a torn ACL, worked out a number of quarterbacks on Tuesday including Kyle Allen, Kellen Clemens, Landry Jones, Tom Savage, Matt Simms and T.J. Yates.

Ultimately, they decided to go with second-year man C.J. Beathard for their game against the Chargers on Sunday. But if they're looking for a quarterback who can possibly win games this season, they might want to pursue Taylor, who has a 23-21-1 record and took the Bills to the playoffs last year.

Granted, Taylor has struggled for the Browns, especially in the first half of Thursday night's 21-17 come-from-behind victory over the Jets, in which Mayfield came off the bench to replace him with 1:42 left in the half and overcame a 14-point deficit.

But Taylor was knocked around a lot in that game, and had gotten up slowly several times before the blow that ultimately knocked him out of the game with the concussion.

Here are some things to consider about possibly trading Taylor, whom the Browns acquired from the Bills for a third-round pick in March:

1. Browns didn't always play to Taylor's strengths

The Browns, with new coordinator Todd Haley, didn't necessarily play to Taylor's strengths and build enough of his dual-threat ability and mobility into the gameplan. He ran a lot, including leading the Browns with 77 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers, but much of that was him pulling it in and running when the pocket collapsed.

The QB-friendly Kyle Shanahan would likely find a way to turn Taylor into the functional quarterback he was most of the time in Buffalo.

Jackson even acknowledged that the Browns put Taylor in some tough spots against the Jets.

"We didn't do a lot of things early on offense in my opinion to help Tyrod,'' he said. "There were some blown assignments and mental errors we had that let some people had some free runners at him. Obviously, we got those things shored up pretty quickly there as we started the second half to where we could protect Baker better, and he made some plays with his arm."

Even if the 49ers were interested in Taylor, they would've had to wait because he's in the concussion protocol. Once cleared, they should at least consider it, because Taylor is likely better than what he had a chance to show here.

2. Taylor was one-year rental

Taylor was a one-year rental for the Browns at $16 million, and he's no longer needed with Mayfield starting. The Browns have Drew Stanton on the roster, and he can start if Mayfield gets hurt. Mayfield's designated mentor, Stanton went 9-4 in Arizona from 2014-17, and has an 11-6 mark overall.

The original plan was for Taylor to play as long as possible, which the Browns probably hoped was at least up to the bye on Nov. 18. But now that he's the backup, it makes sense to move him if they can.

3. Who would take on that big contract?

At first glance, it seems like Taylor would be out of most teams' price range. But $6 million of his $16 million salary for 2018 came in the form of a roster bonus paid in March. The remaining $10 million is his base salary, which became guaranteed when he was on the roster the first week of the season.

But if a team trades for him, they're only on the hook for $588,235 per game. Therefore, if the 49ers traded for him after this week, they'd only have to pay him $7.647 million for the final 13 weeks of the season. If Shanahan, the former Browns offensive coordinator, can get him on the right track and he helps save their season, that's not a huge price to pay.

The 49ers are third in the NFL in cap space behind the Browns and Colts, according to overthecap.com.

4. Another team could need him down the road

Taylor could also become attractive to another team between now and the NFL trading deadline Oct. 30. If the Browns can find a taker, they'd recoup a draft pick from that trade and save some of his salary.

Taylor would have a chance to play again this season and prove he deserves a starting job. It would take the right system and the right situation, but Taylor provides excellent leadership as well as dual-threat ability. What's more, as the weeks go by, he'll get cheaper and cheaper.

5. Browns have no intention of trading him

"He's going to be right here,'' Jackson said Monday. "He's not going anywhere. That's important. Part of Baker being able to play like he did was because of Tyrod and Drew. I don't want to upset that room that way. I don't think there's any reason to. Tyrod is going to be needed. He's the backup quarterback on this team if he's healthy, and he's played.

"His teammates know who he is and how he goes about the rhythm of his game. It's always good to have that kind of depth at that position, especially if we are traveling down this road, which we are."

6. Taylor will be the backup in Oakland

Jackson made it clear that a healthy Taylor would be the backup in Oakland. In 2 1/2 games, he completed only 48.8 percent of his attempts for 5.5 yards per attempt. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions, earning a 63.7 rating. Again, the Browns didn't always give him in the best chance to be successful.

Voted a team captain, Taylor will undoubtedly help Mayfield in any way he can. But he came here with a chip on his shoulder from the Bills letting him go after he snapped their 17-year playoff drought, and now he's landed on the bench after 2 1/2 games. It just seems to make sense for the Browns to move him if they can.

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