Despite major struggles and drama during 2021 season, Baker Mayfield is expected to be back as the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback.
General manager Andrew Berry made that clear on Tuesday in his season-ending press conference with the media.
However, there’s another thing clouding the situation between the former No. 1 pick and his organization following another non-playoff season. Mayfield was unable to agree to a contract extension during the 2021 offseason and is set to play under the final year of his contract.
In talking to the media on Tuesday, Berry pretty much made it clear that Mayfield will not be handed a lucrative contract extension during the off-season. Rather, it seems as if the embattled signal caller will be forced to prove himself as a potential franchise guy.
“We have a lot of guys who will have gone into their final (contract) year or something along those lines,” Berry said. “That is not something that really goes into the calculus for us. Every year, you will have guys on expiring deals.”
Berry was then asked if he believed Mayfield would be a lame duck quarterback in 2022.
“I do not know that I would categorize it that way,” Berry continued. “Again, you have a number of players across positions that are entering the final years of their deals. That is not something that is really top of mind for me.”
No mention of contract extension talks. It’s a pretty big change up from before the 2021 season when Mayfield and the Browns’ brass talked contract on a near never-ending loop. It also goes to show us what Cleveland might think of Mayfield following an uninspiring performance from both the quarterback and his team.
Baker Mayfield contract no longer a focal point for Cleveland Browns
There’s a lot that has changed since last time the Browns discussed a new deal with Mayfield. Last offseason, they were coming off an 11-5 campaign and seemed to be destined to be Super Bowl contenders.
Fast forward several months, and Cleveland is coming off a disastrous eight-win 2021 campaign. Meanwhile, Mayfield regressed big time while dealing with numerous injuries.
- Baker Mayfield stats (2020): 63% completion, 3,563 yards, 26 TD, 8 INT, 95.9 rating
- Baker Mayfield stats (2021): 61% completion, 3,010 yards, 17 TD, 13 INT, 83.1 rating
For the former Oklahoma standout, it’s been all about a lack of consistency. Remember, he threw 22 touchdowns against 21 interceptions the season before his breakout 2020 campaign.
Rather than focusing on handing Mayfield a new long-term deal, it seems reasonable to believe that the Browns are going to hone in on finding someone to potentially challenge him during training camp and the preseason.
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There were previously thoughts that he’d receive upwards of $30 million per season on a new contract. Based on Mayfield’s overall performance through four seasons, exhausting that type of financial commitment on him would be foolhardy.
- Baker Mayfield contract: $18.86 million cap hit for 2022; free agent in 2023
That near $19 million figure is something the Browns can work with. The larger question for this team moving forward is whether it believes Mayfield can be the guy to lead Cleveland to a Super Bowl title. We’re just not seeing it right now.
Either way, the 2022 NFL season will likely be make or break for Mayfield in Cleveland. Berry seemed to make that clear on Tuesday.