The Cleveland Browns made a big decision about quarterback Baker Mayfield earlier today. The team has exercised the fifth-year option on his contract for 2022, keeping him under team control for at least two more seasons.
Mayfield will make just under $19 million for that season. That is, unless the two sides negotiate a longer term deal ahead of the start of the 2022 season. Today's decision makes it pretty clear that the Browns have Mayfield in their plans going forward, after a solid 2020 campaign by the former Heisman winner.
General manager Andrew Berry declined to talk about long term talks for Mayfield and Denzel Ward, whose option was just picked up as well. What he did say, is that the deals for Mayfield's draft classmates Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, who are expected to be among the next players to get huge contracts, will not impact the team's thinking.
“Across all player markets, yes certainly external factors may impact, to some degree what you do with players on your roster, but by and large, we’ll make those decisions independently of what other teams do," he said, via The Plain Dealer. "We won’t feel any pressure either way.’'
Per the report, league sources have said that the two sides haven't engaged in long term talks yet. Baker Mayfield had an interesting year in 2020, throwing for his lowest yardage (3,564), but a solid touchdown mark (26, 5.3-percent), and career low interceptions and interception rate (eight, 1.6-percent). He managed the Browns' run-first offense very well, and led the team to an 11-5 record, even if he wasn't the focal point the same way that Jackson and Allen are for their respective teams.
That raises questions about the Browns' long term commitment to him as the franchise quarterback, and whether he deserves the same kind of mega-money that other franchise-leading former No. 1 picks get. Spotrac calculates his market value for a new deal at around four-years, $141 million, good for over $35 million per season.