The NFL is currently in the only true slow news period in the calendar year as teams await the beginning of training camps at the end of this month.
While the league may be quiet, the various media members and outlets that cover the league still have to feed the content machine, which brings us to today’s “report” about Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Teams across the league are now allowed to start talking about contract extensions with players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Mayfield is part of a group of quarterbacks, along with Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, that is receiving the most attention because of the importance of the position they play.
No general manager is required to give an extension to a player after their first three years, of course, but that does not stop the speculation over who will get an extension, how much it will be in actual dollars, and when said extension will be signed.
That leads us to today when ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler appeared on ESPN’s Get Up morning program and said that the belief around the league is that Mayfield’s upcoming deal will be fairly easy to complete since he is not as good as Allen and Jackson. And that Mayfield is not going to be in the mood to leave any money on the table (Fowler comes up at the 1:45 mark in the video):
“I’ve talked to execs who think that Baker Mayfield’s deal is the easiest to do because Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen are considered more in that top five-to-seven range of quarterbacks in the league, a little bit of a higher tier, (they have) proved a little more. And then Mayfield’s money might be a little more manageable as a result, if the Browns can get it to the finish line. But Mayfield is hardly going to take a discount here. I know the Browns are going to look very hard at this.
“Both sides are open to a deal, but nothing substantial has happened yet. (It) should be coming, maybe in the next weeks or months, (and) closer to training camp that will heat up. And Mayfield’s situation is one where the Browns value him and believe he has a higher ceiling than he’s hit. They’re not going to hold his 2019 rough season against him because the Freddie Kitchens era was a bit of a mess. They believe he’s got another gear he can reach.”
It is always interesting when team executives speculate about what another team will do since they really don’t have any insight into how a team other than their own feels about its players.
It is also debatable whether or not Allen and Jackson are really that much better than Mayfield. Stats may not always tell the true story, but Mayfield’s playoff numbers of four touchdown passes, one interception and one win in two career playoff games stack up very nicely to Allen (five touchdown passes, one interception and two wins in four games) and outclass Jackson (three touchdown passes, five interceptions and one win in four games).
You know, for those of you keeping score at home.
As to whether or not Mayfield will give the Browns a “hometown discount,” that generally does not happen across the league - especially when a player is signing this type of extension - so that part is not too surprising.
According to spotrac.com, Mayfield’s market value on an extension is a four-year deal worth $141 million, an average of $35.3 million a year, which seems like a decent enough number for general manager Andrew Berry and Mayfield’s agents to work with.
Ever since the end of the 2020 season, an extension for Mayfield has always been a question of when one gets done, rather than if one will get done. Nothing has really changed in that regard.
Until the “when” becomes official, however, there will likely be more reports of what Mayfield and the Browns will or will not do about his contract situation.
It is that time of the year in the NFL, after all.