The 2020-2021 season was a huge success for the Cleveland Browns. They made a playoff run for the first time in decades along with securing their first postseason win in decades. However, the 2021 season could be a make or break season for the future of the Browns.
Currently, the Browns have the 10th most cap space in the entire NFL, however, the money that they are free to spend will quickly disappear. The Cleveland Browns will soon be forced to give key players contract extensions.
The first player that the Browns will need to pay is Baker Mayfield. After countless years and quarterbacks, it appears that the franchise has finally found its franchise quarterback. Fans are ready to go to war for him and his persona matches that of Cleveland perfectly.
As a result of how well he connects with the fans and the awful track record that the Cleveland Browns have at the quarterback position, it is likely that the Browns will be forced to overpay Mayfield in respect to his career numbers. It’s possible that once his extension is signed, Mayfield could be a top-10 — or even top-five ‚— paid quarterback in the league.
The next player that the Browns will have to give a big extension is Nick Chubb. Chubb is one of, if not the most important player on the Browns roster. Despite suffering a serious injury halfway through the season, Chubb still managed to finish the year with over 1,000 rushing yards.
Chubb is one of the best at his position and the Browns will likely be forced to pay him as such. While I completely agree with giving Chubb the money he deserves and has earned during his time with the Browns, the team that has won the Super Bowl in the past decade has not paid their leading rusher over $3 million a year.
The final player that the Cleveland Browns will have to give a big contract extension is Denzel Ward. Ward has proven himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league last season. He was one of the few bright spots on what otherwise was a lacking secondary.
Although he missed a chunk of the season due to injury, Ward has proven himself to be the Browns lockdown corner of the future and someone they will have to compensate him as such.
Because the Browns will be handing out so much money over the next two offseasons, this is the year that they need to sign a star free agent or two and make their big Super Bowl push.
The team has been rumored to sign both J.J. Watt and Richard Sherman over this offseason. If GM Andrew Berry is able to fit both players within the cap on one-year deals, it would be the perfect move for a one-year push to win it all.
If this were to happen, it would provide the Browns to reevaluate their roster at the end of the season and adjust the roster to make it possible to resign give Mayfield, Chubb, and Ward contract extensions.
Possibly using Watt and Sherman as one-year rentals unless their season with the team goes extremely well.