NFL

Baker Mayfield May Have Just Received a Little Clarity About His Future With the Browns

After an atrocious second season in the NFL, quarterback Baker Mayfield proved to the Cleveland Browns in 2020 that he has what it takes to become their franchise quarterback. He not only improved his play, but he also helped lead the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. So, in a day in age where we see young quarterbacks get massive contract extensions from their teams nearly every year, will Baker Mayfield soon receive one from the Browns? Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski recently addressed Mayfield’s contract situation.

Baker Mayfield improved drastically with the Cleveland Browns

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The Cleveland Browns had high expectations for Baker Mayfield, the former Heisman Trophy winner, when they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He then proved to be worth that No. 1 pick in his rookie season, too.

The Browns had just come off an 0-16 season in 2017, but in Mayfield’s rookie year in 2018, he went 6-7 as the team’s starter, and the team went 7-8-1 overall. He played well in the 14 games he appeared in, too, as he threw for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.

However, Cleveland had high expectations in 2019 after making some offseason moves that included trading for Odell Beckham Jr. Mayfield played horribly in that season, though. He threw for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. The Browns took a step back, too, as they went 6-10 overall.

Mayfield and Cleveland then bounced back in a big way in 2020. Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions this past season. He also helped lead the Browns to an 11-5 record, and they made the playoffs for the first time since 2002. In the playoffs, Mayfield also helped lead Cleveland to a win over their AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the team won its first playoff game since 1994.

Mayfield certainly proved in 2020 that he has the potential to lead the Browns to significant heights. So, how does Cleveland feel about his future with the franchise?

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski addressed his quarterback’s future

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Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski recently appeared on Keyshawn, JWill, & Zubin, and he addressed Baker Mayfield’s contract situation.

“I’m lucky in that I have a really good general manager that gets to worry about those type things,” Stefanski said on the March 4 episode. “Obviously, (general manager) Andrew [Berry] and I talk about all of our players and all of these things. I’ll just tell you that, all of these decisions, it’s a business, but things take care of themselves. It works itself out. I’m going to focus on the day-to-day, and as it applies to Baker, I know he’s going to do the same.”

No, this comment didn’t address a timetable as to when the Browns plan to give Baker Mayfield a contract extension. As long as the team picks up his fifth-year option, he is under contract through the 2022 season, so they have a little bit of time. These comments, though, seem to point toward Stefanski expecting Mayfield to be on the Browns for quite some time moving forward, as he said everything regarding his contract situation should “works itself out.”

How much will Baker Mayfield make on his new contract?

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According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns have until May 3 to pick up the fifth-year option on Baker Mayfield’s contract. She expects them to do so, too, as it would cost them about $20 million, which is pretty cheap compared to what top QBs typically make.

So, how much could Mayfield make once he does get that extension, whether it’s this offseason or in a future offseason? Patrick Mahomes makes an average of $45 million per year on his contract, and he was selected in the 2017 draft, while Mayfield was a 2018 selection. Deshaun Watson, another 2017 draft selection, also makes an average of $39 million per year. Mayfield hasn’t played as well as those two guys, so it’s hard to see him making that much. 

He probably won’t get paid as much as Russell Wilson ($35 million per year) or Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million per year), either, but he has more potential on the field than Kirk Cousins, who makes $33 million per year. It would be reasonable to expect the Browns to give Baker Mayfield a little over $30 million per year on his next contract. That is unless he dominates in 2021, then he could be in the market for an even bigger deal.

It will be interesting to see how Baker Mayfield’s contract situation works out. No matter how much he makes, though, it seems pretty likely that his future in the NFL will be with the Cleveland Browns.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference; Contract numbers courtesy of Spotrac