The Cleveland Browns have a huge decision to make on Baker Mayfield in the coming months, one that will alter the course of the franchise for the next decade. Mayfield is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract and even with a fifth-year option coming, the Browns will need to determine whether he deserves a long-term extension that will make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game.
Cleveland has time to evaluate Mayfield, but there's a recent precedent that may force the Browns' hand on extending Mayfield this offseason. The Philadelphia Eagles extended Carson Wentz and the Los Angeles Rams signed Jared Goff to $100 million extensions after their third seasons and both are no longer with the franchise that drafted them as top two picks several years ago.
Mayfield, a No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, is up next to get an extension. Just because the Wentz deal blew up in the Eagles' face doesn't mean the Browns will hesitate on signing Mayfield
"I do not know that with respect to anything that has happened to any of the other 31 teams has a major bearing in terms of how we are going to address the quarterback situation here," Browns general manager Andrew Berry said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "To me, we will evaluate that internally and make a decision we think is best for our team and our organization. I think it would maybe be a stretch to say that it is going to serve as a cautionary tale or any type of blueprint for us. We will make the best decision for us with the information we have."
The Browns have enough evidence to warrant giving Mayfield an extension based on his play over the first three years of his career. Mayfield, Andrew Luck, and Peyton Manning are only three players in league history to throw for at least 3,500 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in each of their first three seasons -- all are former No. 1 picks. Mayfield has the fifth-most passing yards (11,115) and completions (932) by a No. 1 pick in his first three seasons. His 89.1 rating is the fifth-best in the same category.
The Browns are 15-1 when Mayfield posts a 100+ passer rating, 14-1 when he posts a 100+ passer rating and a passing touchdown and 12-1 when he posts a 100+ passer rating and multiple passing touchdowns. When Mayfield is at his best, he's worth the contract that is coming his way.
Mayfield is 11th in the NFL in passing yards (11,115), 10th in the NFL in passing touchdowns (75), and 21st in passer rating (89.1) out of 24 quarterbacks with 1,000+ passing attempts since the start of the 2018 season. He has thrown the third-most interceptions with 43.
Is he worth a $100 million extension? The Browns will certainly take their time in determining so, yet remain in communication with their quarterback.
"We have been pretty consistent with our messaging around Baker that we think he had a really strong season for us, we like the maturation and the growth -- both on and off the field," Berry said. "We are looking forward to him continuing to take strides in his second year in (this) offense."