The Cleveland Browns entered the 2021 season hoping to build off their first playoff berth in nearly two decades. Instead, the Browns are spiraling toward a disappointing outcome that may spell greater problems. All that has guided Cleveland toward ignoring the troubling fate ahead with quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Browns are tumbling south fast in the 2021 season
Since the Browns raced off to a strong start behind a 3-1 record, the wheels have begun to fall off the wagon, dropping the last three straight contests.
Cleveland first experienced a tough road loss in Week 5 to the Los Angeles Chargers in an offensive shootout that came down to the final few possessions in the fourth quarter. The Browns then failed to rebound in Week 6 as the Arizona Cardinals steamrolled past them 37-14.
The progressive fall out of AFC North title contention is strongly tied to the Browns’ significant injuries. The team has ventured the last two weeks without star running back Nick Chubb due to a calf injury. Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt will miss the next four-to-six weeks due to a more severe calf injury. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have filtered in and out of the lineup.
Those injury woes don’t stop there as Mayfield is limping through the 2021 season dealing with an ailing shoulder. He’s managing through a torn partially torn labrum in his left shoulder that’s resulted in dislocating his shoulder twice. All that has led the battered and bruised Browns to ignore the concerning fate that lies ahead.
Cleveland Browns are choosing to ignore doomed fate with Baker Mayfield
As the Browns prepare for Thursday night action against the Broncos, the team is moving forward with much uncertainty around Mayfield’s health.
Despite the 26-year-old’s desire to play in Week 7 action, the team is moving forward with backup Case Keenum to take up the spot start duties. Keenum last started with the Washington Football Team in the 2019 season. However, he holds plenty of experience filling that role as he guided the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs in 2017.
Beyond that, it only further underlines the mess involving Mayfield. According to Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network, the fourth-year quarterback is dealing with an injury that will require surgery after the 2021 season. Mayfield will attempt to soldier through the pain to stay on the field, but it’s an inevitable outcome that lies ahead.
“Only I know how my body feels,” Mayfield said Tuesday. “If anyone questions whether I am hindering the team and going out there injured, that’s just not right. It’s my decision. I get to say whether I am able to play or not, and that’s just how it is.”
ESPN‘s Jake Trotter is also reporting that the team is hoping that he can avoid season-ending surgery. Mayfield will test his mental and physical fortitude, but it’s hard to ignore the discouraging direction.
Cleveland is tumbling south fast, and Mayfield’s injury problems are dog piling on the downward trajectory.
Baker Mayfield’s contract extension looks murky
Beyond Mayfield‘s injuries, his play hasn’t generated much encouragement regarding his long-term future.
He ranks 19th with 1,474 passing yards, tied for 25th with six touchdown passes, and 25th with a 41.6 quarterback rating. Mayfield is coming off recording back-to-back games with two touchdown passes, but he hasn’t played with any consistency.
Before the 2021 campaign, he hoped to work out a long-term extension. Mayfield is currently under contract through 2022 as the team picked up his $18.5 million fifth-year option in his rookie contract.
Although it’s not a make-or-break season due to having another year left in the deal, his performance hasn’t suggested a massive extension lies ahead. Instead, it only further fuels the Browns’ hesitance to back the brinks truck up for the 26-year-old next offseason.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.