The 2021 season hasn’t even begun, and already various media members are bashing Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Why exactly? Perhaps these expert analysts are not convinced that Mayfield is actually the answer for the Browns. Or perhaps, they are comparing him to other quarterbacks that were taken in the exact same draft such as Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen.
All three QB’s are in their fourth year of their five-year rookie contract. All three have been expecting their fifth-year option to not be picked up, but simply an extension would be worked out instead.
An expensive extension to be exact.
On Friday, one of the three got their wish when Buffalo gave QB Allen a six-year deal worth $258 million, including $150 million guaranteed. The new contract will have a value of $43 million annually which now makes Allen the second-highest paid signalcaller in the league behind Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.
And so, for this QB class of 2018, the bar is now set.
But not so fast. The Bills, Ravens and Browns all had the option to exercise the fifth-year option on their quarterbacks and in fact all three did just that. The Browns exercised Mayfield’s fifth-year option in April. The move extended him to a contract through 2022 when he will make $18.86 million.
At the time of the extension to Mayfield and also CB Denzel Ward, Cleveland GM Andrew Berry said this:
“Both of those players have really done a nice job for us over the first three years. We view both of those guys as young players who continue to ascend.”
Hold on. The math is fuzzy. Mayfield, taken first overall in the 2018 NFL draft, will make $920,000 this season and then $18.86 million in 2022 - which is a very good income make no mistake. But here is Allen, taken seventh overall, and he will bring home $43 million. Jackson, the last player taken in the first-round, is still without a long-term deal. He does not have representation as he is negotiating his own contract.
When the Ravens’ season finished with a loss in the playoffs last year, the club make its intentions very clear to make their star QB one of the highest-paid at his position in the NFL. Yet, so far no news on the contract front.
What are the Browns intentions with Mayfield? Are they sure he is their guy going forward? Are they going to wait for him to complete one more season before making a long-term decision? Is the fifth-year option decision going to become a lengthy extension like Allen got instead? And if so, when?
A new extension for Mayfield?
Here at DBN, our own Thomas Moore revealed back in June that if a new deal is in the works, Mayfield’s people are willing to wait. Not willing to wait an entire season mind you, but wait until either Jackson or Allen got their deals completed. Or both.
Which makes a heck of a lot of sense.
All three have taken their respective teams to the playoffs. Both Allen and Jackson have won division titles. Jackson was the NFL MVP in 2019, has gone to one Pro Bowl and was the NFL passing touchdowns leader that same year. Allen led Buffalo to the AFC Championship Game in 2020 and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Mayfield’s resume is a bit shorter. He led the Browns to a winning season and broke a 17-year drought, plus got Cleveland into the playoffs to which they won their first playoff game and lost their second. But so far, no Pro Bowl sniffs.
In the process of being a Cleveland Brown, he has received quite a bit of grief. The facts are that since his time in orange and brown, he has had three head coaches, three QB coaches and three offensive coordinators. Suddenly this year, everybody is the same. The playbook is the same. So is the offensive scheme.
So now that Allen has inked his huge deal, will Mayfield be right behind him? Or will he languish all year on his rookie deal?
When asked, Mayfield said he is not concerned about when a contract extension from the Browns might come. Okay, but how about now? Do we believe the fourth-year quarterback isn’t itching to get a long-term deal done?
Baker Mayfield's extension could stretch into the fall, and no substantive talks have taken place yet, but he's their man so no worries. Deals for Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson will factor in: #Browns Insider https://t.co/7wt0IZNFdE— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 26, 2021
Everyone with the Browns have made it very clear they believe Mayfield can take them deeper into the playoffs and eventually win Super Bowls. And that they’re going to pay him sometime soon.
Maybe the Allen signing is just the first domino to fall for Mayfield’s camp. But as of August 6, contract talks about a new deal have floundered with his agents Tom and Jack Mills.
Talking heads bashing Mayfield
Usually, the bad news from the various media outlets and sports talk shows indicates where a player is going during the season and his issues.
But just recently, numerous talking heads are playing “kill the man with the ball.”
NFL analyst and former offensive guard Geoff Schwartz seems to be leading the pack. His analysis? “The Browns’ problem is their quarterback.”
Schwartz went on the “Minus Three Podcast” recently and had this to say:
“They’re not going to be good enough to win the Super Bowl with Baker Mayfield. If you’re the Browns, it’s very bold and (they’re) not going to do it, but do you say, ‘We’re not going to pay Baker this year? Maybe there’s a special player in the draft this upcoming year that we can go get ourselves like the Chiefs did (Patrick) Mahomes.’ It’s very bold. It’s very unlikely, but if I told you Browns fans, you can upgrade your quarterback in the draft next year, would you do it?”
Which, according to Schwartz, means that Cleveland is simply rustling the leaves until this season or the next has concluded to decide what to do with Mayfield’s contract. They have him under contract for two seasons at a bargain rate, correct? That would give Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski three full years with the same system and an improved offensive line plus the return of Odell Beckham, Jr. to figure things out about continuing on or making a change.
Schwartz then continued with:
“And, I would say, ‘yes,’ but the problem is, is that what if you don’t, right? What if you waste a first-round draft pick, you trade all the way up and the guy is a scrub, and then you now really ruined your chance to win a Super Bowl.”
There will be plenty of very good QB prospects who should hear their name called in Round 1 of the NFL draft such as J.T. Daniels of Georgia, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell of North Carolina, to name a few.
Schwartz did mention that the 2021 Browns roster on paper looks very impressive. However, he said if they fall short, “the problem is their quarterback.”
“(Mayfield) had a lot of games last year where he threw for (less than) 200 yards, and (the Browns) won. I mean that’s not really common in the NFL now.”
Schwartz apparently has never played a game in his eight-year NFL career dealing with those winds coming off Lake Erie. Plus, aren’t the Browns a running team?
Another sports analyst, former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott of ESPN seems to be singing the same song.
This is what he said right after Allen was signed to his big deal on radio station KJZ on “The Morning Show”:
“The reason why they haven’t gave(sic) Baker Mayfield a contract is they don’t really believe… in him. I don’t think they think he is on the Josh Allen level.”
Scott went on and stated that the real issue is a lack of faith in Mayfield despite leading them to a winning record last year plus a playoff victory.
“(Mayfield) is a guy who is unproven. He has a lot to prove this year. He’s not Lamar Jackson. He hasn’t won an MVP where his peers feel he is the best guy in the NFL.”
No, Mayfield is certainly not Jackson. Or Mahomes, or Allen or Aaron Rodgers or Johnny Unitas for that matter.
He has his own skill set and had a very good season once he became settled in an offense that worked within his talent level. Cleveland wants to run the ball. They don’t care for one second if their quarterback is having a good QB rating during each game. And Mayfield finally has a coaching staff that hasn’t abandoned him plus a GM who finally got him a decent offensive line to work behind.
DBN’s response to Scott? Typical Ravens’ crap.
Stefanski and Mayfield spent a lot of time with each other during this past off-season and watching tape. When has Mayfield had that luxury?
Stefanski was quoted with this about the off-season with his quarterback:
“Throughout the course of this off-season program going all of the way back to April, we have installed the offense we have watched tape together and we have added new plays and talked about old plays. We have a pretty good feel for where Baker is and really where a bunch of the guys that are returning.”
Baker Mayfield on whether he cares if extension negotiations linger into the season: “I’m not doing the negotiations so quite frankly I don’t give a damn. I’m worried about winning…” pic.twitter.com/OynrmhzCcz— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) August 8, 2021
The owners call Mayfield their franchise quarterback. So does Berry. And Stefanski. But until they sign him to a long-term deal, his ultimate value with the franchise will always be in question.
The ESPN show “Get Up” had their thoughts on Mayfield as well. Marcus Spears had some good thoughts but was sitting on the fence when he stated:
“When was the last time a Cleveland Browns quarterback ever got into the conversation about a second contract? So that’s a win for Baker Mayfield right there. He did some things that out-dueling the quarterback on the other side from me was impressive. Now, what tier? What money? I don’t see $40 million.”
To honestly and intelligently look at Mayfield’s progress, you have to consider he is not a four-year player, but a one-year player in a set offensive scheme going into his second year.
Mayfield himself has done plenty to not only receive the respect he deserves, but to be considered his place with the Browns for the long haul. He has certainly shown maturity behind center and made continuous strides.
Is he a perfect quarterback? No. But he is a perfect quarterback for the City of Cleveland.
What is your opinion of what Geoff Schwartz said?
This poll is closed
No games have been played yet this year. Save the analysis and/or criticism for the season....geez!!
Most of it made sense
Offensive lineman who has gotten whacked way too many times
The Ravens and Bart Scott can kiss it! Oh wait, you asked about that Schwartz dude....