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Browns Have Huge Offseason Decision To Make On Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on the field.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - NOVEMBER 21: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on after the game against the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns confirmed that Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steeler was Baker Mayfield's last of the 2021 season. Due to a litany of injuries, including a severely banged-up shoulder, the former No. 1 overall pick will not play in the team's finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Now the question becomes, whether or not Monday's loss to the Steelers was the final game Mayfield will play as a member of the Browns.

It's no secret that Mayfield struggled to prove that he's deserving of the top role in Cleveland moving forward. His 2021 season was marred with a shoulder injury that forced him to play with an intensive harness on his left shoulder, but it certainly didn't help that he played poorly down the stretch and the Browns stumbled out of the playoff picture.

Mayfield is under contract for one more year because Cleveland picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract this past season. He's due to be paid $18.858 million in 2022, all of which is fully guaranteed, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

That's not a small chunk of change to pay for a player who hasn't exactly shown he can be the franchise's future at quarterback. The only way for the Browns to get out of that guaranteed money is by trading Mayfield out of Cleveland.

The financial hit that the Browns would take with Mayfield would only grow if they had to sign him to an extension after the 2022 season. Although he hasn't lived up to the hype that comes with being a No. 1 pick, Mayfield is still just 26 and would likely command a pretty hefty payday.

All of the above factors make this offseason an important one in Cleveland. The Browns have a stout defense and a talented run game, but they need a quarterback that can produce consistently if they want to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

The organization will need to take a long look in the mirror this spring to determine if Mayfield is fit for that role. If he isn't, the Browns would be wise to look elsewhere during the offseason.