The Cleveland Browns fell short of their ultimate goal in 2020, and now they must transition their efforts to the 2021 season. The first order of business: lock up Baker Mayfield.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Barry will exercise the team’s fifth-year option on Baker Mayfield. At that time, the window for signing Mayfield to a long-term deal will officially open. By signing Mayfield before going into his fourth season, Berry could potentially save the Browns tens of millions of dollars in the long run.
However, there is an x-factor in the Browns’ contract equations. Will Mayfield choose to bet on himself this offseason and put off contract negotiations until after the 2021 season? If Mayfield is able to pick up in 2021 where he left off in 2020, the likelihood of him finishing among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL is immensely high. High-risk high reward.
While it would be hard to turn down $20 million per season, if Mayfield gambles on himself and plays to his potential, his payday would likely be over $30 million per season. It would not be the first time that Mayfield pushed all his chips to the center of the table.
After not receiving a scholarship offer from Texas Tech after his freshman year, Mayfield rolled the dice and enrolled at Oklahoma University without even reaching out to the coaching staff. That gamble resulted in Mayfield becoming the No. 1 overall draft pick four years later.
It would seem that the fourth-year signal-caller has a good deal of momentum heading into this offseason. For the first time in his professional career, Mayfield will not be busy learning a new offensive system and instead will be able to work on building on his experience in the system.
All of the Browns’ major offensive weapons, with the exception of Rashard Higgins, are under contract so continuity will not be an issue. The Browns will also be returning a top-five offensive line which can only aid Mayfield’s offensive production.
Andrew Barry would be smart, as Harvard guys usually are, to get Mayfield signed to a long-term deal this offseason. But don’t be surprised if Mayfield chooses to gamble on himself, it’s part of what makes him, well…him.