One of the biggest decisions on the horizon for Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry deals with a second contract for quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The sense of urgency to complete an extension with Mayfield is mitigated by the fact that the Browns can keep Mayfield through the 2024 season by simply letting him play out his rookie contract - they have already picked up his fifth-year option - and then using the franchise tag for two consecutive seasons.
That is a bit more of a nuclear option, however, and it seems far more likely that Berry will continue to work with Mayfield’s agent to work out an actual extension that will start in 2022.
The only real negative, at least on the team’s side, is the longer they wait the higher Mayfield’s price tag potentially goes up.
As far as Mayfield, he is in a perfect spot right now.
Given that he plays the game’s most important position, if Mayfield continues to play the way he did over the final 10 games of the 2020 season where he threw for 15 touchdowns against just two interceptions while leading the Browns to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, he is going to get paid by someone.
Mayfield did not come out and say that specifically when asked about his contract situation during minicamp this past week, but he clearly knows that if he takes care of business the payday will follow (quotes via team-provided transcript):
“I am in no rush because I am just trying to win games, and like I said, it will handle itself. I am sure Tom and Jack Mills are handling that. I do not try and feed too much into that because that is wasting my time and energy and thought process on stuff that I am not in control of right now. I am going to handle what I can control.
I think the chips will fall where they are supposed to. I am concerned about winning, and that is what everybody in this building needs to be concerned about. It is not saying that everybody is not, but the concern right now is winning and building a strong foundation for this season.
“I have bet on myself my whole life. I have always taken it one day at a time and one play at a time. I am not going to handle it any differently now.”
The Browns have high expectations, not only for this season but for the next several years, and Mayfield is at the center of it all.
If he can help the franchise meet those expectations, giving him a contract may be one of the easiest decisions that Berry will ever make as a general manager.