The Browns have given major contracts to a couple of the men who block for their quarterback. The Browns still aren’t ready to pay their quarterback.
As explained by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns and Mayfield have yet to engage in “substantive contract talks.” She adds that talks could happen before the end of the current season.
Mayfield is signed through 2022. He’s due to make more than $18.5 million next season, the option year of his rookie contract.
“Of course,” Bitonio said, via Cabot. “I think he’s shown a lot. From day one, before he even got drafted by the Cleveland Browns, he said, ‘I want to go to Cleveland. I want to help turn that around.’ Having that mentality, the toughness he plays with, the savvy he plays with and the ability he shows when he plays football, I think he’s the right guy for the job.
“I would love to see that,” Bitonio said, “but I didn’t even know about my contract until a few days ago. It’s a lot. I know we are in-season right now, and the team is really starting to focus in on going 1-0 this week. He’s our guy, and we love Bake, his personality and his ability. He is someone who I think people rally around.”
The challenge becomes determining the right value for Mayfield. There’s no question regarding whether the Browns want Mayfield. But will the team’s valuation of the player match the player’s valuation of himself? The days of the next quarterback to be signed instantly becoming the highest-paid player in league history are over.
The Browns may view Mayfield as a guy who should get $30 million per year. Mayfield may want more than $40 million per year. That’s where it will get interesting.
Come 2023, then what? Will the Browns use the franchise tag? What happens in 2024? If Mayfield and the Browns can’t reach a middle ground, how do they proceed?
For now, Mayfield carries the risk of injury or ineffectiveness. The Browns assume the risk that Mayfield will become so good that they’ll have no choice but to give him what he wants. The Browns would probably welcome that — as long as he doesn’t regress like Jared Goff after Baker breaks the bank.