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What Should the Browns do with Baker Mayfield's Contract Situation?
The Cleveland Browns have a big problem progressing as Baker Mayfield is coming up on the end of his contract. He is officially signed through next season as the Browns picked up his fifth-year option for a little under $19 million for 2022. However, he has not played well enough for the huge contract for the former first-overall pick in 2018.
So far this season, Baker Mayfield has been dealing with a plethora of injuries but is 26th with a 37.9 QBR and has 11 touchdowns to six interceptions with 2,413 passing yards. The Cleveland Browns seem to be a running football team and need to figure out their plan with Mayfield for the future.
What are the Options?
The options at the quarterback position could excite Cleveland as currently, a decent amount of quarterbacks are members of the free-agent class. Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Sam Darnold, Nick Foles, Drew Lock, Tom Brady, and Lamar Jackson are all currently slated to be free agents as Baker Mayfield is as well.
The question then becomes, do the Cleveland Browns think that any of these options will lead this team to the playoffs and become serious contenders? The answer for me is yes, as if Derek Carr or Kirk Cousins are available, Cleveland should jump on that. Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady, and probably Jimmy Garoppolo seem not to be the quarterback heading to Cleveland as free agents, and those are the next level of starting quarterbacks.
Why Not Keep Baker?
In simplistic terms, Baker Mayfield is not a winning quarterback in the NFL as of this writing. He is a career 61.9 percent completion percentage and is less than a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (86 touchdowns, 49 interceptions). That isn’t going to win games, and the biggest comparison I can give is Mark Sanchez.
Now, Baker Mayfield has more talent, but Baker Mayfield isn’t winning your team games unless the defense and running games are both playing at a great level. Having a better player under center will make the Browns a better team. They already tried surrounding him with weapons like Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt to help his numbers out, but it hasn’t been good as he is 28-28 as a quarterback in the NFL.
Unless there is a massive jump in his production in the final 23 regular-season games and potential playoff games in the next season and a half, Baker Mayfield should not remain the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland needs someone who has proven to be a leader and provide solid play in a division with Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson only getting better. Derek Carr seems to be the best fit as he can dominate and provide stability in a locker room that seems to be divided. Baker Mayfield is a starting quarterback in the NFL, but not for a team with many expectations.
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