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The Cleveland Browns can now concentrate on this season and beyond now that the Odell Beckham Jr. problem has been resolved. Aside from winning games right now, the Browns’ next major problem is what to do with quarterback Baker Mayfield. A contract extension is due for the former No. 1 overall selection, but at least one former NFL general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, believes he does not deserve top-tier money.
Baker Mayfield’s contract must be decided by the Cleveland Browns.
Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma, was taken first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns won the top overall selection after going 0-16 the previous season. Prior to Mayfield’s selection, the franchise had gone a combined 67-157 since its previous participation in the playoffs in 2002.
Mayfield went 12-17 as a starter in his first two seasons under Hue Jackson, interim Gregg Williams, and Freddie Kitchens. The Browns then turned things around in 2020, with first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, and went 11-5 to make the playoffs. They even beat the division foe Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 in a playoff game.
The club took up Mayfield’s $18.8 million fifth-year option for 2022, but has yet to reach an agreement with the quarterback on a long-term deal.
What exactly is the issue? The draft of 2018.
Mayfield was selected six places ahead of Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen and 31 spots ahead of Baltimore Ravens NFL MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson by the Browns. Cleveland also selected Pro Bowl DB Denzel Ward (No. 4) and two-time Pro Bowl RB Nick Chubb in the same draft (No. 35).
The organization has made it obvious that Ward and Chubb are their top priority in terms of signings. Ward will be awarded a three-year, $36 million contract extension shortly after Chubb.
Josh Allen, the quarterback, signed a six-year, $258 million contract deal this summer, with an annual average wage (AAV) of $43 million. This puts him in the same ballpark as Patrick Mahomes ($45 million AAV) and Dak Prescott ($40 million AAV).
Jackson should be the next to receive a $40 million contract, but will Mayfield follow suit?
At least one previous NFL general manager has said that he would not do it.
Mike Tannenbaum, a former GM, says he would not pay $40 million for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Mike Tannenbaum, the former general manager of the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins, spoke on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday to address the OBJ issue and the Browns in general.
Dan Patrick asked Tannenbaum, who spent a season with the Browns early in his career, what he would do with Baker Mayfield in the long run. Tannenbaum reacted bluntly:
I’m quite concerned. When you consider Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr, he’s short and slow, and if you and I were operating a club, he’d be the sixth-best quarterback in the AFC. In the AFC, quarterbacks are in their prime. He’s perhaps the AFC North’s third-best quarterback, after Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow. So, I’m paying him in that mid-tier market, but Baker Mayfield isn’t going to help us win a championship. Do we want to go to battle every day with our conference’s sixth or seventh best quarterback?
Baker Mayfield, according to Mike Tannenbaum
“There is no mid-tier” for quarterbacks anymore, Patrick said. He claims that in today’s NFL, you must either pay the “next person up” with a $40-$45 million deal or cut him.
Tannenbaum concurred with Patrick’s assessment, saying that if he were the Browns’ general manager, he’d prefer to be paid in the $28-$30 million area, similar to Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. He also said that he would offer Mayfield and his representatives the option of signing for a mid-tier club and competing for championships with a loaded squad, or signing for a top-tier team and hoping for luck with a superb defense.
Tannenbaum’s opinion was severe, but was it fair?
Should Baker Mayfield’s contract be extended to a top-tier quarterback?
Baker Mayfield and Mike Tannenbaum (L-R) | Photos by Dylan Buell/Getty Images and Jim Spellman/WireImage
Baker Mayfield will always be compared to Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, whether it’s fair or not.
Mayfield hasn’t had the same level of individual success as the other two Class of 2018 star quarterbacks, and he hasn’t had the same level of team success.
Allen, who has two postseason appearances to Mayfield’s one, led the Bills to the AFC Championship game last season. Like Mayfield, Jackson has just one playoff victory, but he has reached the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.
When you remove the parallels, it’s clear that the Browns win when Mayfield does less, not more. He posted career lows in completions (305), passing attempts per game (30.4), and yards in his postseason season of 2020. (3,563).
It’s unfair to suggest the Browns win despite Mayfield, but it’s also evident that he isn’t the only reason they win. Allen, Jackson, Mahomes, and Prescott can all carry a team on their backs, but the former Sooner can’t.
The trouble is that the Browns will almost certainly have to make a decision next year. They’ll either have to pay Mayfield like a top-flight quarterback or risk losing him and ending up in the NFL’s limbo of not having a long-term franchise quarterback.
That implies that, although Tannenbaum is correct regarding Mayfield, his scenario is unlikely to happen.
Pro Football Reference provided all numbers, while Spotrac provided contract statistics.
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