Baker Mayfield’s extension with the Cleveland Browns received the most attention this offseason, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen first, with the team also in need of new deals with running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward.
The Browns executed the fifth-year options of both Mayfield and Ward this offseason, meaning the star duo are linked to the team for at least the next two seasons. Chubb, who was a second-round pick, can hit free agency next offseason if the team does not have a long-term deal in place.
While most teams around the league have been timid about paying running backs, the resume Chubb has built makes him an exception. He’s a reliable, tough runner without much glitz or glam that has the potential to lead to NFL in rushing.
While injuries have forced Ward to miss 11 games over his first three seasons, he’s a Pro Bowl talent at the cornerback position, taking on the tough assignments for the Browns.
Insider: Browns Will Focus on Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward Extensions
Mayfield is the big-ticket item, whose contract will likely set the tone for the entire franchise. However, NFL insider Ian Rapoport believes the Browns will wait until next year to extend Mayfield, focusing on Chubb and Ward first. Rapoport broke down the situation on NFL Now.
“They have three core players that are up for contract extensions that they have at least had some level of discussions on. Baker Mayfield is one, the quarterback always takes the attention; Nick Chubb, the star running back, is another; then Denzel Ward, their standout corner, is the other,” Rapoport said. “My read on the situation, which has been consistent since the season has ended, it’s a little more of a wait-and-see approach on Baker Mayfield. Not that the Browns want to see what they have, but there are some other quarterback contracts that get done first. I wouldn’t be surprised, based on what I know, if it’s Baker Mayfield next offseason and the Browns focus their contract talks on Chubb and Ward this season. It’s a little more manageable and having a little more information on the quarterback is never a bad thing. It’s not like Baker is urgent in need of a deal right now either. Baker being patient for his contract is a good thing and a positive read on the situation for the quarterback.”
Baker Mayfield Not Sweating New Contract
Mayfield is coming off his best season as a pro and thrived in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s down the stretch. Mayfield passed for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and — more importantly — minimized his mistakes with a career-low eight interceptions.
Mayfield has said he’s willing to bet on himself and rightly so. He will have one of the best supporting casts in the league next year with Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper — among many others — serving as the weapons on offense. If he leads the Browns back to the playoffs and has a Pro Bowl-caliber season, he’ll cash in big time. On top of that, he and the team will also be able to see how the deals for his draftmates Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson work out.
“I think everything will play itself out,” Mayfield told reporters at his camp on Thursday. “I’m not worried about it at all because if we win we’re heading in the right direction.”