It still seems strange to consider the idea that Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns should be regarded as Super Bowl contenders.
That is what happens when one of the NFL’s longest-suffering organizations is coming off the best season in franchise history. After so many yearso f losing, Cleveland also came within a few plays of upsetting Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs.
When the Browns take the field in a Week 1 rematch with the Chiefs, Mayfield — assuming that he is healthy — will have an opportunity to make the hometown fans even happier.
Baker Mayfield and the Browns can make history in Week 1
There has been no shortage of jokes over the years regarding the Cleveland Browns’ issues at quarterback.
Cleveland drafted Baker Mayfield first overall in 2018, and he finally broke the Browns’ playoff drought last season. If the hometown fans weren’t excited enough already, their grins have an opportunity to stretch even wider when Week 1 arrives.
Mayfield started the Browns’ openers in 2019 and 2020, and he is expected to make it three straight years on September 12. If he does indeed start that game, he will become the first quarterback in Browns history to start three consecutive season-openers.
Former Browns head coach Hue Jackson started Tyrod Taylor at quarterback to open the 2018 season. Mayfield took over midway through a Week 3 victory over the Jets, and it has been his team since.
Mayfield appears to have solved the Browns’ quarterback issues
Browns fans had to suffer through the likes of Brady Quinn and Johnny Manziel failing miserably under center. One must always knock on wood when it involves the Browns, but it appears those painful days at the Factory of Sadness might be over.
Mayfield is already arguably the greatest quarterback in the franchise’s modern history. Since the franchise returned in 1999, he has a team-high 75 passing touchdowns. He is 17 yards away from passing Tim Couch as the current organization’s all-time passing yards leader.
Although Mayfield has thrown 43 interceptions in 46 regular-season games, he only threw eight picks in 486 attempts last season. He also only threw a single interception in 71 attempts during the two playoff games.
Mayfield and Cleveland still need to agree on a new contract
Between starting for a Super Bowl contender and re-emerging as one of the league’s top young quarterbacks, Mayfield has plenty of reasons to be excited right now.
Next up for the 26-year-old quarterback could be a contract extension. The Browns picked up Mayfield’s fifth-year option in April, a move which will pay him over $18.8 million next season.
As of May 2021, neither side had agreed to terms on a contract extension. Numerous players from the 2017 NFL draft, including Patrick Mahomes, signed their long-term contract extension in the summer of 2020. Mayfield, the top pick in 2018, would be wise to sign an extension before the regular season begins so he and the Browns can avoid any distractions.