Will Browns wait another year to extend Baker Mayfield?

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The Browns say they’re sold on quarterback Baker Mayfield. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to pay his price.

Of the three best quarterbacks from the five-man first-round class of 2018 (Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Mayfield), one has not yet played at the same level as the other two. Jackson won the league MVP award in 2019. Last year, Allen made a jump to MVP-caliber play.

Mayfield showed steady growth in 2020 after a disappointing 2019 season, but he has yet to put together a wire-to-wire MVP-style season. The question (one that people in the league are openly asking) becomes whether that’s enough to give Mayfield a massive, market-value-or-close-to-it contract now.

In May, Browns G.M. Andrew Berry declined to characterize the contracts given by the Rams and Eagles to Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively, after three seasons in the NFL as cautionary tales. While Wentz’s regression in the second year after signing his second contract potentially falls into the “sh-t happens” folder, the Rams clearly shouldn’t have paid Goff what they paid him when they paid him — and the extra first-round pick they tucked into the Matthew Stafford trade to get the Lions to assume the Goff deal confirms it.

Our position on quarterback second contracts remains simple. If the team knows he’s the long-term answer at the position, pay him as soon as he becomes eligible for that deal or, if that realization comes after the final game of the player’s third regular season (that’s when he becomes eligible for a second deal), the moment the light bulb flickers on.

For the Browns, that’s the real question. Do they believe Mayfield is the guy? Are they ready to give Mayfield the kind of cap commitment that will complicate the effort to put a team around him? Is he the kind of quarterback whose mere presence elevates the rest of the team, or is he a quarterback who simply benefits from a team of all-stars that the Browns continued to build around him?

That’s not for me, you, or anyone else not employed by the Browns to answer. Only the Browns (and/or any homeless guys from whom owner Jimmy Haslam still takes advice) know whether Mayfield is the guy, or whether maybe there’s another guy with whom the Browns would do more.

In making that assessment, one key ingredient becomes critical: What Mayfield wants. Does he want $30 million per year? Is it $35 million annually? Or maybe $40 million? Does he want top-of-market money ($45 million) without the Mahomesian 12-year commitment?

Mayfield lacks no confidence. That’s critical to succeeding in the NFL. His extreme confidence could cause him to want more from the Browns than they’re willing to pay, however. That could result in the Browns waiting another year.

There’s risk to both sides in waiting. If Mayfield becomes an MVP candidate this year, the price goes way up next year. If Mayfield regresses this year, the price goes down or, if it doesn’t, the Browns may start looking at their alternatives.

With so many great young quarterbacks constantly emerging from college football, teams no longer must cling to a quarterback who has yet to become a clear top-10 guy. And (as the Rams and Eagles learned) paying a not-top-10 guy like a top-10 guy leads nowhere good.

40 responses to “Will Browns wait another year to extend Baker Mayfield?

  1. Neither side is in a hurry to get this done and neither side is upset about it. They’re both willing to wait out Allen/Jackson who’s teams have more pressure to sign them. The Browns are only making a mistake if Baker has an MVP caliber season…. but then he’ll be a MVP caliber QB under their control so they’ll pay him anyway. It’s not like if they underpay him now and he has an MVP season that they won’t have to pay him more anyway in the next couple years.

  2. “Will” and “Should” are two separate questions when it comes to an extension for Baker right now.

    I’m in the “wait” camp but I can understand why Cleveland would go early. It may not even be as much about Baker as it is engaging their fan base.

  3. It’s still debatable whether Mayfield is a good quarterback. Having an elite running game papers over that question, but it has to be proven that he is before the Browns actually compete for a title.

  4. People act like he wasn’t Awesome as a rookie. Better numbers across the board than Kyler Murray’s so-called roty campaign. There wasn’t a team of All-stars around him then, and he had two head coaches, Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams. Nuff said

  5. People need to remember that the Browns were 0-16 when they drafted Mayfield #1 overall.

  6. He’s above average, but the team will need funds to build out a complete roster at EVERY position because he doesn’t have the talent to compensate for team weaknesses. Nothing wrong that, but the team may have to allow him to test the market to establish value. Unfortunately for the team, another team might value him more the way the vikes did with cousins.

  7. Not going to get into the details of whether Mayfield is worth a big long-term contract as there’s valid arguments on both sides. For sake of argument, let’s just assume he’s going to continue to be a solid to above-average QB.

    If you look at past Superb Owl winners, the Browns MUST wait to give him a contract. You win super bowls by having either a future HoF’er at QB, or by having a QB on his rookie deal so that you can build a solid team around him.

    The Browns still have two years of cost control on Baker (counting the 5th year option). Unless Mayfield and his representation throw a fit and threaten to not sign a long term deal with the Browns if they exercise his 5th year option (which would be unprecedented), the Browns cannot lock him up early. Doing so would be crazy as they’d immediately have to start discarding key pieces off of a very talented roster.

  8. I see average at best without the benefit of a great running game.
    Running however, will not be enough in the AFC in the coming years. He will need to show the proven ability of Allen, and take control of a game single handed with pure arm talent…..which I never see happening.

  9. I think NFL GM’s are finally starting to realize that you can’t spend 30% or more of your available salary cap on one player and hope to field a competitive team. (Unless it’s a once in a generation talent like Mahomes) Watch what is going to happen to the Cowboys over the next few years. Dak will never have the Cowboys as Superbowl contenders when he’s sucking $40 million of the cap every year. I’m not a Pats fan but there is no way they win that many Superbowls with Brady demanding to be the highest paid player on the game.

  10. The Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield gap is not as distant as perceived. Baker Mayfield had to deal with 4th and 9 QB draw coach Freddie Kitchens and Allen did not.

  11. It’s funny how we went from overpaying 1st round draft picks ~15 years ago to shifting that money to constantly upping the salary for QBs regardless of performance. Every QB that’s even top 12 in the league seems to constantly be setting a new bar everytime their contracts get renegotiated. It’s like owners/GMs can’t help themselves. Can’t blow money on unproven top 10 draft picks? Pay $100M guaranteed to the 9th best QB in the league!

  12. He is a winner he is confident and he has matured a lot i say sign him to a 4yr deal
    worth 140 million .

  13. Washington had this problem with Kirk Cousins. It’s debatable if Cousins is better than Mayfield or vice versa. What’s not debatable is that neither are true franchise QBs. They’re good QBs you can win with if everything around them is right.

    Washington handled it in the worst possible manner; handing Cousins 3 franchise tags, still typing up the salary cap so much that they couldn’t put any talent around him and then let him walk for nothing! All the Browns have to do is the opposite of that and the organization makes a good decision.

  14. If your 3rd year QB wants (and perhaps deserves) a top of the market deal, say for 5 additional years, why would the team sign them now. They have them for 2 more years plus two reasonable tags (versus a top of market deal). A total of 4-additional years from now. A lot can happen between now and then.

    Now if the are willing to discount the deal to x degree, that is a different story. But if any of these three want a top of market deal, just agree with them and sign it after year 5… if they are still worth it.

  15. Come on Browns, all the bandwagon fans think hes great! 6 year 300 million!

  16. Well with the luck the Browns have drafting QBs I’m sure they will over pay a average Mayfield just to be a least a mediocre team .

  17. If you’re the Browns I think you have to sign him and give it a shot. I don’t see him bringing home the Lombardi but they should at least be a solid team for a while with him. What else are they really going to do? Trade him? Let him walk in FA? OK, fine, now what? It’s not like Mayfield is carrying a team that would otherwise only win 2 or 3 games and be in line for a top pick next year. Where is this big upgrade over Mayfield going to come from exactly? The temptation to try and upgrade is always there but you have to be realistic about who you can actually get. If Mayfield has absurd demands then maybe you have to roll the dice on an alternative option, he isn’t worth a blank check, but otherwise I think the Browns have to do it.

  18. malcomreynolds says:
    July 6, 2021 at 9:40 am
    It’s still debatable whether Mayfield is a good quarterback. Having an elite running game papers over that question, but it has to be proven that he is before the Browns actually compete for a title.

    actually.. no.. it isn’t debatable.. it’s only debatable for people who haven’t watched mayfield play very much.. or people that don’t comprehend the instability that he had to endure his first two years in the league. the browns WILL extend mayfield before the season starts.. but the front office that is paying him is extremely intelligent, and they are waiting to see what transpires with allen and jackson beforehand…

  19. If you look at the money Jimmy Haslam has spent over the years trying to make the Browns competitive we all know the money is there…. it’s just how you dance around the salary cap without blowing up the team that seems to be the modern day dilemma. Tom Brady never worried about the money. He was too busy buying ring polish.

  20. oh please. when was the last time a team got burned waiting too long to sign on contract?

  21. oh please. when was the last time a team got burned waiting too long to sign on contract?

    ———-

    The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott a few months ago.

  22. The idiot GMs rush to sign (or wait way to long cough cough Dallas) thinking they are smart and save a few dollars then regret what they did and hamstring their team for years to come.

    Don’t forget that draft also had the epic bust of Rosen and more likely career back-up Darnold.

  23. They should wait until the end of 2021. To me, a deep playoff run in 2021 would be the decisive factor. The fact they made the playoff, and won a playoff game in 2020, was an historic achievement, only because of their long history of mediocrity.
    Mayfield is not elite by any means, especially in the pocket.
    Against KC in the divisional, trailing 22-17, on 1st and 10 at CLE 32, with 5:17 to go, all Mayfield was able to do, is end up with 4th and 9 at CLE 32, after 2 short incompletions.
    These are the situations where you see the real value of your QB.

  24. In recent history, guys coming off of rookie deals, either sign top of market contracts or they hit free agency. The only exception is Garoppolo because he had only played less than a dozen games in his career at that point.

    I don’t know Baker Mayfield would be any different, which means the Browns would have to pay him north of 40 million, maybe even up to 45 million to keep him.

    It may be a mistake to pay that much. It may not be. How replaceable do you think Mayfield is even if 40 million is too much? Who made the bigger mistake with Kurt Cousins, the WFT or the Minnesota Vikings?

    I think Buffallo and Baltimore are trapped in the corner with their qbs, where they have to pay top of the market contracts despite the fact that there are still questions about both Lamar and Allen, at least in my mind. The Browns conversely can move on from Mayfield if they think he’s too expensive, but there is absolutely no reason to think they will be able to keep him and pay him less than 40 million a year, though a lot of these commenters seem to think he can be signed for 30 million. That’s not reality. It may be what he is “worth” talent-wise, but that is not the market price for guys coming off their rookie deals at this point.

  25. No way I’m extending Mayfield. He has the best weapons of any QB in the NFL and all things considered, is producing mediocre results. He had the 30th best completion percentage last year of starting QBs. The Browns were 9-0 in games where they rushed more than passed. That means they are winning in spite of him not because of him. I would have extended Nick Chubb already as he is the best player on the entire Team. There are 8 QBs in the AFC better than Mayfield. Mahomes, Herbert, Watson, Jackson, Burrow, Roethlisberger, Allen, and Carr

  26. If I had to choose I’d extend Lamar over Baker… at least Lamar is consistent in the regular season. That being said, no way I pay Lamar anything close to the rumored $40mm. The only QB who can win you a Super Bowl in that class is Josh Allen. Lamar sure can break some great runs and his regular season stats are impressive, but it’s the playoffs that count and he is a train wreck when it comes to pressure time. Tying up that much money with a seriously flawed QB makes no sense because you’re going to have to get rid of the positions you need to make Lamar successful to begin with due to cap issues.

  27. He’s an average quarterback and will fall third in line in salary behind Jackson and Allen only because he was in that quarterback class…….he should concentrate on getting better instead of making insurance commercials

  28. Browns will do what Browns have done traditionally. They’ll time it such that they get screwed. That is just the way the Browns operate. I say pay him now based on his production to date and be done with it and just hope that he continues to play to his contract. Waiting a year with all the weapons they have (they’re going to have a good season just given how talented the rest of the roster is), they will end up making him the highest paid QB in the league. Then they’ll suffer immensely for it for the next decade. They’re in a pickle to put it mildly.

  29. Thank goodness bulk completion percentage is NOT the only metric we have available to assess QB play.

  30. Pay him now. 3 potential outcomes… 1. MVP type season, they’re very much in the SB mix and his price goes way up. 2. He remains basically what he is now… steaky but good with occasional bad games, occasional great games and lets be honest, with the talent they have now they’re still in the SB mix and his price is still going up. 3. He regresses and the team falls out of the SB mix and his price goes down and/or they’re actively looking for a new QB. 2/3rds chance that the price is going up. I buy now and even though you’ll have to rework the contract in a few years if he’s legit MVP caliber, you get a few years of below market value in either situation 1 or 2 above and that’s really the difference between having and not having another couple high caliber players for those years. There’s always risk, I’d bet on him this year.

  31. Polarizing player. But his physical talent seems to have panned out. If they wait just carry an extra 1 to the second number on the contract cause all that will happen is it will get more expensive.

  32. Browns fan evaluation of Mayfield is delusional. Just because the 26 QBs before him were awful, doesn’t mean Mayfield is a good QB. He was taken #1 overall, and has the least amount of combined TD and the most TOs between Allen and Jackson. There are 8 QBs better than him in the AFC alone. Factoring in the NFC QBs, Rodgers, Brady, Stafford, Ryan, Wilson, Jimmy G, Dak, Cousins, and Goff are all better than Mayfield too. So that makes him approximately the 18th best QB in the NFL.

  33. In their first 3 seasons, only two players in NFL history have at least 11k pass yds, 75 pass TD, and an 89 passer rating:

    Baker Mayfield
    Dan Marino

  34. The Browns aren’t worrying. Baker Mayfield isn’t worrying. The Browns should get close to the super bowl this year. I think that’s what’s on everyone’s mind. Winner’s worry about winning. That’s why they win. Has Tom Brady ever been the highest paid QB? No. Is Tom starving? No. Does Tom have rings? Yes. See. It’s simple. Mayfield probably figures he has around 15 years to make around $35 million a year. The commercials probably won’t slow down, either. That’s over a half billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. Money is the absolute last thing Mayfield needs to worry about.

  35. The football world does not realize how truly horrific this team was before Baker arrived. We suffered arguably the worst 10 year stretch of any professional sports franchise. Ever. This guy overcame the fearsome offensive juggernaut trio of Hue Jackson, Freddie Kitchens and Todd Haley to come within a whisker of rookie of the year with only Jarvis Landry as a ‘weapon’. Mark it down, Mayfield will be the best QB in his class in the fullness of time. He’s only getting better at the position and his maturity is growing every year.

  36. Lots of comments about how the Browns, Bills, and/or Ravens are in a pickle or trapped in a corner because of their QB play. “They’re good, but how good?? Are the Bills going to regret paying their good QB??” And I get it – but let me just say, my goodness, is this a nice corner to be put in by your QB, as opposed to the last 20 of such offseason conversations as “Do you think Kolb will win the starting job?” and “EJ Manuel could be good if we get him some weapons!” and “JP Losman stinks, Trent Edwards is the future!”

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