Browns don’t sweat Baker Mayfield playing in 2022 without a new contract

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The Browns and quarterback Baker Mayfield have yet to strike a long-term deal, more than a year after the window for doing so opened. With Mayfield having a down year in 2021, both sides are preparing for Mayfield playing the 2022 season with no contract beyond it.

Browns G.M. Andrew Berry told reporters on Tuesday that the Browns have no qualm about proceeding with Mayfield without a commitment beyond next season.

“We have a lot of guys who will have gone into their final [contract] year or something along those lines,” Berry said. “That is not something that really goes into the calculus for us. Every year, you will have guys on expiring deals.”

Right, but every year you don’t have a starting quarterback on an expiring deal. That should change the calculus, especially with Mayfield potentially willing to take less than he would have expected if, for example, the Browns had qualified for the playoffs and/or Mayfield had played better in 2021.

Berry resisted the characterization of Mayfield being a “lame duck” in 2022.

“I do not know that I would categorize it that way,” Berry said. “Again, you have a number of players across positions that are entering the final years of their deals. That is not something that is really top of mind for me.”

He can say that. He doesn’t have to believe it. With the Browns expecting Mayfield to bounce back in 2022, there’s value in getting a deal done before he does. Otherwise, the Browns would have to use the franchise tag to keep him around for 2023, absent a long-term contract.

Berry also was asked whether it’s fair to regard Mayfield as being on a “prove it” contract.

“I think the reality of it is any of us who work in the NFL, every year is a prove-it year,” Berry said. “To the contract question in general, I think you guys probably know me well enough that I kind of march to the beat of my own drum in terms of whatever contract precedents are out there so we will deal with each situation on an individual basis.”

Still, the Browns have a chance to get Mayfield signed before he bounces back and his value increases. If they don’t, they risk having to pay him more. If he doesn’t, they avoid a financial commitment beyond the current season.

Although Berry can’t and won’t say it, here’s the truth. They’ve decided to risk Mayfield playing well and his price going up and not to risk paying Mayfield now and potentially regretting it later.

24 responses to “Browns don’t sweat Baker Mayfield playing in 2022 without a new contract

  1. Not a bad call – I’m not a Mayfield fan but I’m not a hater either. He’s underperformed and still has holes in his game that were discussed before the draft. I think he is hypersensitive but it’s probably that sensitivity that spurs him to work hard. So it is tough to figure out what he can become.

    Seems the true evaluation is that the Browns consider him to be a decent QB (kind of a B grade) and with the evidence of other similarly situated quarterbacks that never get out of that zone – see Carson Wentz – it is more prudent for the organization to risk overpaying later and that’s how the new front office operates.

  2. what’s the downside? If he does well, the Browns pay him. If he fails, we don’t. He can be franchised tagged in ’23-’24 regardless. Seems like the Browns are taking the right step here. I hope Baker turns it around and makes a ton of money, but I’m not willing to bet that money based on how he has played today.

  3. You obviously don’t make a decision to pay this guy until you see what QB might fall to you in the draft at lucky #13.

  4. I think this is not a statement about intent. They’re not actually making plans right now, they’re starting the negotiation. This statement means, “we are okay playing you without a new contract this year, so if you want one, make it one that we will accept, or else you’re looking at losing a year of franchise-QB pay and who knows what happens after that.”

    Mayfield – and to some extent Lamar Jackson – is in an odd spot. Surrounded by question marks. Just ending a season that, if it happens again next year, could suddenly find them out of a starting job, maybe for good. Neither seems to be in the position to demand as it seems like they would have been just a year ago.

  5. Why would the Browns sweat? They have a pretty good feeling Baker is not their guy. It all ends up on Baker next year. If he sucks no one will want him. Browns can kick the can down the road for 1 more year trying to figure out what to at qb for the future.

  6. With Baker Mayfield, Is the juice worth the squeeze? Is he destined to be the next QB thrown on the trash heap of Browns QBs since 1999 (the year they came back into the League)? I believe the Browns are up to about 27 or 28 QBs during that period. They’re like paper towels. You use them once or twice and throw them away.

  7. Both Mayfield and Jackson may get $40mill/yr deals or they will be gone. I imagine Baltimore has more of a chance to do so since they actually believe Mr Regular Season Jackson could actually win in the playoffs. Cleveland has painted themselves into a corner b/c they have a short QB who is hypersensitive and just not the answer. I would not want to be the GM at either of those 2 franchises.

  8. No reason to worry. If he flames out again, then he is gone. If he plays great, then you sign him. Most likely he has another so-so year– then they can decide what to do. The problem with these “kind of good” QBs is– Who do you get to replace him? Not many great ones around. Plenty of terrible ones. At least Mayfield occasionally gives you a chance.

  9. jerruhjones says:
    January 11, 2022 at 1:24 pm
    Andrew is always looking to improve the roster and will continue to do so.


    BIG if true.

  10. Browns don’t sweat Baker Mayfield playing in 2022 without a new contract
    Browns sweat Baker Mayfield playing in 2022 without talent.

    Now that Ben is gone, Baker is the NFL’s new Hypochondriac King!

  11. As long as we get more “At Home with Baker Mayfield” commercials count me in. I switch over the All-State because I liked them so much.

  12. It doesn’t hurt a team much if they have to pay a good QB a few million per year extra.
    It greatly hurts a team if they are stuck paying a mediocre QB 35MM/year for a few years. Look at the Rams/Goff and the Eagles/Wentz.

    If the Browns wait a year and see how Mayfield does they will be in position to make a better decision.
    If Mayfield is playing well they can extend him during the season, they don’t have to wait till after the season.

  13. I think they are just driving up his trade value by saying they are sticking with him. I think Cleveland would like to get rid of him but they cannot show their cards as that will drive his trade value down.

  14. Is the healthy QB who led the Browns to a play-off victory in 2020, with some near-elite statistics in the 2nd half of the year, the real Baker Mayfield? Or is the beat up, greatly underperforming half-cripple the real Baker Mayfield?
    Probably neither, but we’ll find out by say, mid October 2022.

    I hope he rebounds…I really like his toughness.

  15. Mayfield is going to want a contract that would pay him in the are of the top 5 QBs in the league. He isn’t going to give the Browns any discount. Frankly, he’s just not worth it. He’s too inconsistent. 17 TDs and 13 INTs. Plus a QBR of 35.3 which is 27th in the league. Does that sound like a guy who is worth top dollar? Not to me.

  16. I agree with one of the posters saying that the Browns are trying to increase Mayfield’s trade value. Would they come out and say that we’re moving on from Baker? I think they will do everything they can to upgrade from Baker this off-season. They are trying so hard to shed the “same old Browns” image and trying so hard to build a quality culture that is on the level with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, etc. You can’t do that with a loose cannon, celebrity QB who has yet to live up to his billing and is willing to publicly criticize his head coach. Imagine Baker doing that to Parcells or Belichick or Walsh. They would ship his behind out so fast you wouldn’t even know he’d played for them. It doesn’t matter if Stefanski isn’t on their level or not. No pro HC will put up with that. Baker won’t be with the Browns next season. You think there was drama this season because Baker didn’t have a new contract, what drama will there be if he plays without a contract next season? How many buses will he use to throw others under before he’s through? It’s a recipe for disaster.

  17. I kinda like this GM’s take. We will wait and see. Only two roads, He fails and gets paid accordingly. {of course, that means another crappy season.) Or he succeeds and we make him rich beyond his dreams. No pressure here Baker. Up to you. Superbowl!

  18. The Browns are never in a hurry to win and get better. The best QB in this Draft is Kenny Pickett. If the Browns had intelligence, which we all know they don’t, they would do whatever it takes to go up to #2 and get Kenny Pickett, like they should have done for Justin Herbert. Mayfield is a bad QB. If he hasn’t fixed his weaknesses poor footwork, lack of knowing the playbook and knowing where everyone is on the field on every play, poor reading of defenses, poor field vision in 4 years, it is never happening. Mayfield’s other problem is he thinks he knows it all which is laughable because he is awful. I don’t want to hear the injury excuses either. He wasn’t hurt. Lets look at his stats pre and post injury. Pre Injury 1 TD 2 INT, POST injury 16 TDs 12 INTs. Listen he is a backup QB at best.

  19. Hmmm…Garrett says the D coordinator does not adjust. Fans say bravo, we’ve been saying that all along!
    Mayfield says the O coordinator is too conservative. Fans say BM is a big mouthed punk, never mind that most of the fans said the exact same thing.

  20. patsfan4lifedynasty says:
    January 11, 2022 at 3:48 pm
    Tyler Huntley > Baker Mayfield

    The Ravens are 1-4 in games in which Huntley has played significant snaps.

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