Baker Mayfield better off playing long game with Browns contract extension
No team has more hype going into the 2021 NFL season than the Cleveland Browns. With that, there comes some eagerness to take care of a contract extension for quarterback Baker Mayfield.
But the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, fresh off leading to the Browns to a playoff victory last season, has no good reason to oblige to the contract expedition. With the state of the league’s franchise QB market, the later the better for Mayfield to sign a new deal.
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Mayfield made the big step toward securing his future in Cleveland with a massive improvement in efficiency during offensive-minded coach’s Kevin Stefanski’s first year. He transitioned from question mark to keeper in a key Year 3.
That also means he set up a chance to push to his ceiling in his fourth season. That puts him a great position to maximize the value of his next contract.
With the escalating QB salaries, Mayfield, even though he is still short of being a top-10 player at his position, has a strong baseline for the bump on his average annual salary. As Patrick Mahomes ($45 million), Dak Prescott ($40 million) and Deshaun Watson ($39 million) all got big raises with their new deals over the past year, Mayfield is looking at a floor of $35 million per season.
That might seem like a lot for the limited success Mayfield has had so far in the NFL, but that number will soon look more like chump change.
From Mayfield’s first-round draft class in ’18, Lamar Jackson (No. 32 overall) has won MVP and Josh Allen (No. 7 overall) has broken out on that level. On the flip side, Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall) is hoping to revive his career on his second team and Josh Rosen (No. 10 overall) is trying to save what’s left of his on a fourth team.
Mayfield is in a sweet spot in the middle. He has more to prove that can give him more worth to the Browns. Jackson and Allen have done it in different ways, but they already have arrived at an elite level with their passing, running and winning.
There’s no question that Jackson and Allen will each exceed $40 million annually and slot somewhere between Mahomes and Prescott. The Ravens and Bills know by now that they have a special QB who puts them in the Super Bowl conversation.
The Browns are on the brink of that feeling with Mayfield. Should he get locked up and be well compensated in the near future, however, they can a shave off a few million, especially if both Jackson and Allen are waiting on their extensions.
Mayfield, should he raise his overall game to where Jackson and Allen are in 2021, can rise to the status of second highest-paid QB, helped by his No. 1 draft status from three-plus years ago.
Stefanski helped get Mayfield back on track by incorporating plenty of QB-friendly concepts off a top running game. The play-action package and bootlegs that took advantage of Mayfield’s athleticism were big assets. The Browns are loaded in the backfield with a mighty offensive line. With both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry expected to be much healthier, they headline a deeply versatile receiving corps that includes top talent at tight end.
The Browns were a solid scoring offense in 2020, but to flirt with the 30 points per game like the most explosive AFC units, it falls on Mayfield. He has potential to surpass 4,000 yards and 35 TDs passing, becoming more prolific while also becoming more efficient. He needs to balance out plays within the system with more off-script magic and pocket confidence alike.
Mayfield shouldn’t be accepting that he’s reached his full potential with the Browns. Settling for what they will pay him now, before the season, is a costly mistake.
Article Found At – Sporting News