The Cleveland Browns may have the next face of the NFL on the roster in third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield
Many will ask how or why but the real question is why not?
Yes, Mayfield is entering this season after having a less than stellar outing last year with yet another offense to learn. With the possibility of the coronavirus interfering with offseason team workouts, the offense’s timing and chemistry may be affected.
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Maybe not, though. Mayfield is currently in Texas studying the playbook and putting some work in on the field. Mayfield posted that he was with tight end David Njoku on his Instagram story. Rashard Higgins later tweeted out that he was in Austin, Texas likely signaling that he joined Mayfield and Njoku in their workouts.
Sure, working out in the offseason and having regular virtual meetings with your teammates won’t necessarily equate to automatic success but it’s definitely a display of leadership expected from a superstar quarterback. Besides, if Kevin Stefanski can make Kirk Cousins look like a pro bowl quarterback, it should be easy with Mayfield and this talented roster.
So how will Mayfield catapult into the face of the NFL? Here are a few thoughts.
Father Time is catching up with Tom Brady. He wasn’t the same quarterback fans are used to in his final season with the Patriots. His arm strength seemed to be lacking and didn’t appear to have much confidence in the pocket. That may change with Brady joining the Buccaneers, but at age 42 it’s unlikely he’ll play beyond 2022.
The same can be said for Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Brees has a deal in place to become a broadcaster for NBC upon retirement which is expected to be within the next two years. The Packers drafted what could be Rodgers’ successor last month so Rodgers may be out in Green Bay after 2021 saving the team $25 million.
Lamar Jackson is a league MVP, but defensive coordinators are catching up to his style of play. Jackson is heavily reliant on the run game and his tight ends. He has a record of 0-2 in the playoffs and if that trend continues, Jackson is sure to fall out of grace with fans.
The biggest opponent to Mayfield at being the poster boy is none other than Patrick Mahomes. He is a league and Super Bowl MVP helping deliver Andy Reid his first championship as a head coach. Mahomes broke the Reid and Madden curse in the same season. That’s borderline witchcraft.
The most likely factor to derail Mahomes’ run is the contracts of his teammates.
The Chiefs have a lot of contracts set to expire in the next few years, including Mahomes’ who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022. Undoubtedly he will command the largest contract in NFL history where most if not all money is fully guaranteed. That will lead to a few cap casualties and trades to make room for the deal.
Players like Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce may be out in Kansas City as they will want one final payday. Watkins has already voiced his displeasure about not being one of the players the Chiefs market at a star level.
Mahomes will probably lose valuable targets as well as protection as linemen Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, and Martinas Rankin all have contracts expiring in 2022. As Browns fans know, a good line can make or break a quarterback.
If you mix up these ingredients and add plenty of hard work and dedication from Mayfield, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be the NFL’s next marketing tool.