The Cleveland Browns could have a lot of cap space dedicated to two superstars in defensive end Myles Garrett and quarterback Baker Mayfield
The Cleveland Browns $52 Million in ‘carryover money’ or money saved by not spending it on player salaries in past years, is in all likelihood going to be spent on young superstars Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield.
It would be great if Garrett and Mayfield loved Cleveland so much that they are willing to play for free, but since these fellows are pro football players, that means they expect to be paid. A lot. If you don’t believe it, ask Mrs. Mayfield!
The NFL pay scale is complex and even weird at times. However, to simplify, the main thing is that the rookie pay scale is lower than the veteran’s scale. Accordingly, once the player becomes eligible for free agency, they are going to be worth much more money.
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That means both Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield are going to be due some very substantial raises.
The contracts of Garrett and Mayfield are special cases because they were Top 10 picks in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. According to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the rule is that they can be extended for the fifth year, and the team must pay them at the rate of the Top 10 players at their position.
So, Garrett’s fifth year would be 2021, and Mayfield’s would be 2022. Currently, Garrett makes $7.5 Million and Mayfield is at the $8.1 Million level. When they become fifth-year players, Garrett would be paid in the range of $16 million dollars (in 2019 dollars. In reality, we should add a few extra million due to the projected rise of the salary cap each year. But for simplicity’s sake, this discussion will be in 2019 dollar levels.
As a quarterback, the Top 10 average around $27 Million per year. See? You only thought Tyrod Taylor was expensive at $16 Million.
The net differential then, for Garrett is $16 Million minus $7.5 Million, equals $8.5 Million
For Mayfield, it will be $27 Million minus $8.1 Million, equals $18.9 Million.
All told, that comes out to an extra $18.9 Million plus $8.5 Million for a total of $27.4 Million per year that the Browns will have to get used to once their superstars get out of their rookie contracts.
If that were applied to the 2019 payroll, that would plus new contracts from the 2019 draft, would push them over their annual cap and force them to dip into those carryover dollars. Within a few years, that huge $52 Million in carryover could be gone.
If they want to, the Browns can attempt to negotiate an extension with a player after three accrued seasons. For Myles Garrett, that would be for the 2020 season, and 2021 for Mayfield. That might be a smart move.
We have not even discussed the situation of other talents such as Joe Schobert, the middle linebacker. He’s eligible to be extended this year if they want to keep him. They should think seriously about cutting Jamie Collins and saving some of those dollars for Schobert. The Browns decision-makers also need to be thinking about guys like Damarious Randall, Emmanuel Ogbah and J. C. Tretter, as previously pointed out by Dawg Pound Daily’s Dan Justik.
This situation is a new one for the Browns. There has never really been a need to budget extra dollars for mega-contracts. If they botch it, they could find themselves in the position that Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders found themselves in last year.
How do you sign Khalil Mack, one of the very best defenders in football, with $7 Million of cap space? This is simply not possible, and so they had to trade him for future assets while cutting lose many of their high-priced veterans.
The danger is if they blow too much money on a free agent spending spree this offseason, it may not be possible to keep Garrett, Mayfield and other rising stars on the team.
It’s hard to predict what John Dorsey will do, but as a guess, he may elect to cut Jamie Collins and use some of that money to reward Joe Schobert with an extension. Then he may add a few key veterans where there is a need for additional talent. DT, CB, WR come to mind. But overall, restraint is needed so that carryover money can allow them to pay Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield when the time comes.