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Cleveland Browns exercise fifth-year option on Baker Mayfield contract, potential extension cost

Matt Johnson

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will be the team’s starting quarterback for the next two seasons after his fifth-year team option for the 2022 season was picked up on Friday.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed that the Browns will exercise the projected $18.858 million option on Mayfield’s contract. As a result, thanks to the new CBA signed in 2020, his salaries for the 2021 and 2022 seasons become fully guaranteed.

NFL teams have until May 3 to exercise the club option, but many have been holding off this spring. With the deadline fast approaching, NFL stars like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Jaire Alexander and Quentn Nelson are expected to see the fifth years of their rookie contracts guaranteed in the coming days.

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The Browns always planned to exercise the team option as they continue to build around the former No. 1 overall pick. Entering his fourth year in the NFL, the 2021 season could be critical in determining the worth of a potential contract extension.

Baker Mayfield stats and potential contract extension

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield
Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-22 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Since entering the league, things have been a bit turbulent for Mayfield. Many in the league were buzzing abotu him after an impressive rookie season, but praise turned to concern after he took a step back in 2019. While he did rebound in a new system this past year, his inconsistent play raises some questions.

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  • Baker Mayfield stats (2018): 3,725 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 7.7 ypa, 93.7 passer rating and 63.8% completion rate
  • Baker Mayfield stats (2019): 3,827 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 7.2 ypa, 78.8 passer rating and 59.4% completion rate
  • Baker Mayfield stats (2020): 3,563 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 7.3 ypa, 95.9 passer rating and 62.8% completion rate

The Browns have done a nice job creating an environment to help get the most out of their quarterback. Kevin Stefanski brought in a system that highlighted Mayfield’s strengths and helped him look more comfortable. It paid off quite nicely in their first year together, with the Browns going 11-5 and winning their first playoff game since 1994.

Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, there aren’t any pressing needs on the Browns’ offense. They will have one of the best pass-blocking offensive lines in the NFL and the receiving duo of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. should thrive. But, it’s worth comparing how Mayfield fared with OBJ and without him in 2021.

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  • Baker Mayfield stats (Week 1-8): 1,514 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 6.79 ypa, 90.9 passer rating, 61.43% completion rate.
  • Baker Mayfield stats (Week 9-17): 2,049 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 7.79 ypa, 100.1 passer rating, 63.88% completion rate.

An NFL offense is better when it has its best players on the field, but Mayfield clearly performed better without OBJ. However, that might be a sign of him being too dependent on his No. 1 receiver and then being forced to adapt quickly without him. Given the improvement, it’s a sign of development in his favor.

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There is still inconsistency with Mayfield that can’t be ignored and it’s why he won’t reach the salary Jackson or Allen will land. With that said, there are a few quarterbacks whose deals he can target when negotiating his contract extension.

  • Jared Goff contract: Four-year, $134 million contract with $110 million guaranteed and $33.5 million AAV.
  • Carson Wentz contract: Four-year, $128 million deal with $107.97 million guaranteed, $32 million AAV.

With the NFL salary cap rising in 2022, Mayfield could push just beyond those figures. If he leads the Browns back to the playoffs and potentially helps them compete for a Super Bowl, he could get even more. Ultimately, a four-year contract worth $150 million ($37.5 million AAV) and $115 million guaranteed could be worked out.