Baker Mayfield's Extremely Unique Path To Fifth-Year Option & Where The Browns Go From Here

Baker Mayfield's Extremely Unique Path To Fifth-Year Option & Where The Browns Go From Here

Nick Pedone
3 years ago
4 min read
Baker Mayfield's Extremely Unique Path To Fifth-Year Option & Where The Browns Go From Here

As I sat and reflected on Baker Mayfield's four-interception meltdown on Christmas Day, I couldn't help but think about the 26 year-old's future in Cleveland.

At the moment, it certainly seems as if Mayfield could be lumped into a group of Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Mitch Trubisky and Jared Goff—quarterbacks who found some success, but their tenure ended in a divorce due to upgrades at the position and reluctancy to commit longterm.

Earlier this season, Browns GM Andrew Berry said the front office will evaluate Mayfield's "full body of work" before making a decision on a future contract extension.


The magical rookie year. Mayfield survived Hue Jackson, which is magical in its own right. His 27 touchdowns broke the rookie record, but that's also the most amount of TD passes he has ever thrown as a professional.


Insert Odell Beckham Jr. and Freddie Kitchens after the Browns moved on from Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. 

The issue with Mayfield's 2019 was his completion percentage (59 percent) and his interceptions (21). It was a season with a position coach as a head coach and play caller, a diva wideout penalized for watches and clown shoes, telling opposing teams to "Come Get Me." 

Mayfield stormed off press conferences, was slammed for shaving his Fu Manchu mustache twice in one day, and had to stick up for a defensive end who bashed a helmet into the head of an opposing QB. Nightmare stuff.


In 2020, it seemed as if Mayfield had found his Sean Payton in Kevin Stefanski.

The season started slow, but Mayfield eliminated the interception problem, looked extremely accurate, and most importantly, won a road playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Well, here we are. A torn labrum, disgruntled receivers's family and friends on Instagram, a cracked humorous, a bruised heel, death threats, and a COVID-19 case has plagued Mayfield's 2021 season.

Sure, merely that's a list of excuses. Mayfield has been average at best in 2021, and that's the bottom line. But these are legit blips that have set back Mayfield's progression as both a player and leader.

Where Do They Go From Here? Upgrade?

You've read it everywhere. It's almost like they aren't hiding it. The Browns are going to try to upgrade the QB position this offseason. They believe they are prepared to win now and are ready to capitalize.

Big names like Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson are available via trade, but neither have Cleveland on their list they'd waive their no trad clause for. Berry likes Watson, but he's legally not cleared and doesn't have the Browns as a team he wants to be traded to.

Perhaps a conversation with Stefanski and Berry could change some minds, but with this current receiving group, and perhaps without Jarvis Landry, that still somehow seems like an uphill battle.

Aaron Rodgers is another name, and a name that has a ton of respect for his former QB coach and current Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. Is that enough for a 38 year-old Rodgers to relocate to the Dawg Pound? Probably not.

That brings us to Derek Carr, who wouldn't require as much via trade, but also needs a contract extension. Carr has never played in a playoff game and hasn't had a winning season since 2016.

The Browns could potentially have a Top 10 pick, which would give Berry adequate ammo to make these trade talks serious. But do any of these players want to commit to Cleveland longterm and waive no trade clauses to do so? That's the bigger issue.

Of course, acquiring one of these big fish would mean Mayfield's time in Cleveland is over. There's no option for him to "sit and learn" in Year 5, where he will be owed just under $19 million. Which brings another issue—trading Mayfield. A team would need to value him enough to part with draft capital and potentially a long-term extension.

Let's Be Real

Berry is tremendous at his job, but landing one of those big named veterans will prove to be difficult. Not impossible. But difficult.

Goff lost his job to Matthew Stafford. Winston lost his job to Tom Brady. Trubisky lost his job to Andy Dalton after the fifth-year expired. Mariota lost his to Ryan Tannehill.

If the Browns are truly "done" with Mayfield, their route would probably be a Tannehill or Dalton caliber player, not a Stafford or Brady. 

Perhaps Mentor-native Trubisky could come push or threaten Mayfield. Maybe a restructured Jimmy Garoppolo? Teddy Bridgewater? 

If Stefanski is ready for a divorce from Mayfield, he could reunite with overpaid and unvaccinated Kirk Cousins, who is set for free agency in 2023. A trade for Cousins would cost the Browns significantly less draft capital and seems like the most realistic option mentioned thus far. 

The fact of the matter is, Mayfield is probably better than most of those names when healthy. He's proven it. The Browns could try to upgrade, but it's unclear if an upgrade will become available.

Mayfield has had a tremendously unique path to playing on his fifth-year option. Unless Berry can go snag a legit name, Mayfield is probably back to "prove it" to the Browns on his fifth-year, unless he chooses not to be.

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