It will be difficult for the Cleveland Browns to move on from Baker Mayfield before 2023, but you may see a quarterback taken this year to plan ahead.
It’s that time of the year where the Cleveland Browns front office will turn to the offseason as their playoff hopes quickly diminish. The 7-7 season has been plagued with injuries, COVID19, and poor football at times on both offense and defense.
A roster that seemed to be built to win now, will have to go through another offseason overhaul with a ton of difficult decisions. General manager Andrew Berry will now decide how to build this team moving forward.
Denzel Ward and Baker Mayfield are both entering the fifth-year option of their rookie deals. Ward has played lights out the back half of the year and should get a major contract extension. Mayfield has been playing through a ton of injuries, but I’m not sure he has proven enough to get the big deal just yet.
The big-name guys out of contract will be Jadeveon Clowney and David Njoku. Both players have been phenomenal in 2021, and the Browns will likely be extremely interested in retaining each of them. However, both will likely receive a lot of interest in free agency and could get into bidding wars.
The last piece to the puzzle is veterans who don’t have a major cap hit and can be released. Jarvis Landry, J.C. Tretter, and Malik Jackson are all three guys in the back half of their career who could be let go before the start of 2022.
I expect Berry to address wide receiver, defensive tackle, and possibly offensive tackle depth early in the draft, but would not be shocked to see them take a quarterback in the mid to late rounds. I’m not saying it’s to replace Mayfield, but with Case Keenum also being a cap casualty contender and questions surrounding Mayfield, it could be a great backup plan scenario.