The Cleveland Browns made a clear and definitive statement on Baker Mayfield’s future on Tuesday, dubbing the former top overall pick their starter going forward.
It’s been a turbulent week for Mayfield, dealing with a tidal wave of criticism and trade rumors as the Browns wrapped up a disappointing season. There’s been some scuttlebutt about Mayfield being replaced as the starter after his disappointing, injury-riddled season. However, general manager Andrew Berry put an end to that talk while speaking to the media in his end-of-year press conference.
“We fully expect Baker to be our starter and bounce back,” Berry told reporters. “Generally speaking, we are looking forward to Baker obviously getting healthy in the offseason and then putting good work into the spring and with his coaches for having the type of season we know he can have moving forward.”
Mayfield passed for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season but slumped down the stretch, tossing seven of those interceptions in the final three games with the Browns hunting a playoff spot.
Berry Not Worried About Mayfield’s Contract Situation
Mayfield is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. Normally, teams and players would like to have an extension done before a deal expires but Berry doesn’t seem too worried about the sides getting something done.
“We have a lot of guys who will have gone into their final [contract] year or something along those lines,” Berry said. “That is not something that really goes into the calculus for us. Every year, you will have guys on expiring deals.”
Berry was asked again about having a “lame duck” quarterback heading into 2022, which he battled back against.
“I do not know that I would categorize it that way. Again, you have a number of players across positions that are entering the final years of their deals,” Berry said. “That is not something that is really top of mind for me.”
Berry Backs Stefanski as Play Caller
While some fingers were pointed at Mayfield for the Browns lack of offense, Stefanski also took some heat as the team’s offensive play-caller. Alex Van Pelt is on the staff as an offensive coordinator and some have clamored to give him a shot calling plays, which has happened on two occasions when Stefanski was out with COVID-19. However, Berry is confident is Stefanski running the show.
“Feel good about Kevin as a play-caller. I think that is something that is one of his strengths,” Berry said. “There are a lot of things that we will need to improve over the next several months, and it really all has to work together. I do not think it is any one thing or any silver bullet. That is why we are going to tear it apart and plot the best path to go, whether it is personnel wise, schematically wise or operationally, with an eye towards improvement in 2022.”
The Browns have other decisions to make on the offensive side of the ball as well. The wide receiver group needs a major upgrade, while tight end David Njoku needs an extension to remain in Cleveland.