The Cleveland Browns recently picked up Baker Mayfieldʻs fifth-year option, a show of faith from the franchise in the former No. 1 overall pick.
The fifth-year option means Mayfield is under contract for at least the next two seasons. Heʻll make $18.86 million in his fifth season, quite the boost from what heʻs made so far on his rookie deal.
The question now is if — and when — the Browns want to give Mayfield a long-term deal, which would no doubt be a lucrative one when you look around the league. Depending on how everything unfolds, thereʻs a chance it could result in Mayfield holding out, albeit he hasnʻt given any signal that it will be the case.
However, Bleacher Report has listed Mayfield among the five players most likely to hold out when training camp rolls around. The article cites the contract situations with quarterbacks Josh Allen (Bills) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens) as catalysts for what could happen.
What if both Allen and Jackson land long-term deals in the next six weeks and Mayfield—who excelled down the stretch in his third pro campaign—sees that Mahomes, Watson, Allen and Jackson were all rewarded after year three? (Same with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz the year before that, although those are probably cautionary tales now.)
Or what if neither Allen nor Jackson has a new deal when camps open and both hold out? Might Mayfield feel compelled to follow suit?
Baker Mayfield ʻTrustsʻ Deal Will Get Done
Allen was in the MVP conversation last season, while Jackson won it in 2019. While Mayfield knows he has to show more consistency and has been diplomatic when it comes to his future in Cleveland.
“I get asked about it a lot, but it is also one of those things that I trust wholeheartedly in the Mills family, my agents, and for them to handle that behind that scenes,” Mayfield told reporters shortly after his fifth-year option was picked up. “Right now, it is about setting up the foundation for this upcoming season, continuing to build on what we left with last year and continuing to improve.”
It was hard to evaluate Mayfield after his first two seasons in the league with the organizational chaos that surrounded him in Cleveland.
This season will be the first time Mayfield has the same head coach, coordinator and offensive scheme in his career.
Mayfield should only improve on his strong showing a year ago, when he passed for 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He showed major improvement down the stretch, helping lead the Browns to their first postseason victory in over a quarter-century.
Baker Mayfield Not Worried About Other Players
Mayfield said heʻs not look around the league at his quarterback peers and is taking it at his own pace.
“No, I hope the best for them. Whatever happens, happens, but it really is out of my control at this point,” Mayfield said. “The fifth-year option just happened so a long-term deal is a little bit on the back burner for me. I am not worried about it. I want to go out and win games. I think everything happens for a reason so we will see what happens.”
If Mayfield plays through this season without a long-term deal, it could have some significant implications on his contract, either good or bad. If he shows the upside he did last season, heʻll cash in bigger than he would this offseason. If he slumps, his future would go the other way.
When it comes to Browns general manager Andrew Berry, he doesnʻt view some other failed QB contracts around the league — Carson Wentz, for example — as a cautionary tale, with each situation being different.
“I don’t know that anything that has happened to any of the other 31 teams has a major bearing, in terms of how we are going to address the quarterback situation here. To me, we’ll evaluate that internally and make a decision we think is best for our team and our organization. I think it would maybe be a stretch to say that’s going to serve as a cautionary tale or any type of blueprint for us. We’ll make the best decision for us with the information we have.”
Mayfield has not attended OTAs but is set to host some Browns teammates — including Odell Beckham Jr. — in Austin, Texas for some workouts soon.