4 reasons Baker Mayfield has seen his numbers go down

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) shown on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) shown on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Baker Mayfield
Sep 26, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

So, is Baker Mayfield a franchise quarterback?

Don’t be silly. There’s no such thing as a franchise quarterback.

The best quarterback of our generation was Tom Brady, who began his career when coach Bill Belichick decided to allow him to start ahead of Drew Bledsoe, a Pro Bowler still in his prime. Nobody thought it was a good idea. Angry fans demanded Bledsoe be reinstated right up to the point that the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

Then there was a quarterback controversy every year once he reached 30, especially when Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in the second round. In between, there was advocacy to dump Brady in favor of Matt Cassell, Ryan Mallett, and Jacoby Brissett.

Last year, of course, Brady was allowed to leave as a free agent to Tampa Bay. Some franchise quarterback. See ya dude!

It’s unrealistic to expect a smoother path for Mayfield.

So everybody seems to think there is this franchise quarterback out there who will solve all the team’s problems, but this isn’t true. Football fans are like the greedy Conquistadors who were continually searching for mythical cities of gold instead of being satisfied with what they had.

A franchise quarterback is an abstract concept, much like a utopian city of gold. It’s simply a topic for philosophers to attempt to define, preferably over a few pitchers of beer. At the end of the day, everyone will shake their head and realize their quarterback is not a true franchise quarterback.

How could he be?

A better question is how much money should the quarterback be paid? This question does have an answer in dollars and cents, not to mention common sense. Not all Super Bowls are won with the highest-salaried quarterback in the NFL, and in fact, few are. So why cry and moan if our guy isn’t the highest-paid?

This fan’s answer is that Baker Mayfield should be offered about the seventh to 10th best package in the NFL, maybe higher if the Browns go deep in the playoffs and he still has not signed an extension. We can only hope that the Browns aren’t going to blow this team up and start signing huge free agent deals and investing draft pick after draft pick after draft pick looking for that nonexistent franchise quarterback. That is how a franchise can be destroyed.

Mayfield’s brain is wired differently than other humans. Normally, the player’s agent would freak out by now, because the extension should have been signed prior to the start of the season to protect the client from injury risk. But it may be that the two-time walk-on just likes to bet on himself and wants to see how high he can achieve before signing the deal, and the injury risk does not matter to him.

The same weird situation exists over in Baltimore, incidentally, where Lamar Jackson doesn’t even have an agent and instead is representing himself.

I like Jackson personally and respect him enormously as a player though I totally root against his team, if that makes any sense. Baker is totally my guy, totally Cleveland’s quarterback, and there’s totally no other option that makes sense, though I don’t hold the opinion that he translates into the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. I hope he doesn’t hold that against me (but he probably does).

The two quarterbacks have had a great rivalry since college, competing for the Heisman Trophy, and now in the same division, the AFC North, seeing each other twice a year. It’s been an awesome rivalry, and here’s hoping it continues for a long, long time.

My unsolicited advice to both men is that you guys are nuts, absolutely nuts, the way you have handled your contract negotiations. This is generational wealth we are talking about, so don’t allow it to be messed up. Lamar, get an agent. Baker, let your agents do their job.

This lull in performance will soon pass. Get your deal done and protect your future. Don’t worry who is the franchisier* quarterback. No go out and win the whole thing.

Next. 4 players who will be key to winning in Week 5. dark

*(attention Miriam-Webster. This is very likely the first time “franchise” has been used as a comparative adjective. The meaning is clear from the context. Here’s hoping it will be included in the next edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Thank you. EBK)