The Cleveland Browns are entering the offseason with the idea of retaining quarterback Baker Mayfield for the 2022 season, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. Mayfield ended the season on injured reserve after electing for surgery on the torn labrum he suffered in Week 2 against the Houston Texans.
Mayfield's style of passing involves his entire body, which could explain why he struggled so much this season. The fourth year pro completed 60.5% of his pass attempts for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. Considering his limited mobility, Mayfield has to be surgical in his delivery and he was late or off-target a lot this season.
Those issues bubbled to the surface publicly in the spat with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Following that parting of ways, it was clear the Browns offense lacked a true difference maker at the position. The team also had significant COVID-19 issues down the stretch, which cost them double-digit starters against the Raiders and Packers.
In recent days, a report of a rift between head coach Kevin Stefanski and Mayfield had surfaced. The quarterback aggressively denied those rumors on social media while addressing the author. Mayfield's career trajectory resembles that of a rollercoaster at Cedar Point. His rookie season was historic in some ways but the encore under the direction of head coach Freddie Kitchens was dismal. In the first season with Stefanski, the marriage resulted in the franchise's first playoff berth since 2002.
The Oklahoma product is scheduled to earn $18.858 million on the fully-guaranteed fifth-year option in 2022.
The reality is that the Browns would need a better option to move on from Mayfield. With a weak upcoming quarterback draft class and recent evidence that suggests starting a player signed in free agency is a poor decision, there are limited options to explore. Some have bandied about trade scenarios for Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson but there are reasons to believe those trades would or could not happen for one reason or another.
Cleveland is 7-9 with one game remaining against the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals. Neither Joe Burrow nor Mayfield are expected to play as the outcome will have little impact on the fate of either. The wide receiver position is expected to be a priority for the organization this offseason.