Baker Mayfield has proven to be the quarterback of the future for the Cleveland Browns but the team doesn’t need to extend him this year.
The Cleveland Browns have found their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield. There is no debate on that question. If your argument is “Well, he’s no Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers”, I would argue, so? Do you know what Rodgers and Mahomes have in common? They have the same number of Super Bowl wins as Brett Favre, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Brad Johnson, and Trent Dilfer. You need a good quarterback to win a game, you need a great team to win a Super Bowl.
Heck, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Collin Kapernick all went to the Super Bowl as their team’s starter. Mayfield, even in those players’ respective primes, is better than all of them as a third-year quarterback.
So let’s say that Mayfield isn’t a Top 10 quarterback, he is, but let’s pretend he isn’t. That doesn’t mean the team can’t win a Super Bowl or two with him. After all, he’s a better player than Eli Manning. So why does it matter if he’s not the very best player at his position?
How spoiled have some of you become that you’re going to throw out a Pro Bowl-caliber player because he’s not a first-ballot Hall of Famer through three years? It’s absurd.
Now, why wait to extend him? That’s easy; Mayfield alone isn’t going to get you to the Super Bowl. No quarterback is. Sorry, the “most important position in sports” doesn’t tackle. It doesn’t provide press coverage or chase down men to get sacks. A quarterback can only do so much and in the event of an injury to said quarterback, you can’t just give up. You have to be able to continue on without him.
Hello, Chad Henne.
The problem becomes if your quarterback does go down, do you have the pieces around him to make it work? Especially on the defense?
The Browns, right now, don’t. They need to reinvest in the defense. They need to improve that side of the ball. It’s actually kind of sad that they’re in this position because for the cost of Odell Beckham’s contract, they could’ve brought back Damarious Randall, Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert, and helped secure the pass defense.
A good pass defense may have gotten the Browns past Kansas City.
That brings us to investing in the defense first while the team has oodles of salary cap space. After this year, the team has a lot of expiring deals and deals they can opt-out of to clear cap space.
There’s little to no chance that Beckham gets a new deal in Cleveland after the end of the 2021 season. Olivier Vernon’s deal is already up. David Njoku is gone one way or another after the 2021 season (if not before). Chris Hubbard’s deal is up then as well, and you can opt-out of Case Keenum’s bad contract too.
The Browns can invest gobs of money in 2021 on the defense, and then when you clear the books of Beckham, Hubbard, Keenum, etc, then you can then give Mayfield that extension. So the best bet is to wait a season and adjust accordingly to what you have and what you need after investing in the defense. Some guys will need to go to allow for the team to bring back it’s best players. That’s just how it is in the NFL.
If you want to compete for a Super Bowl, however, the Browns need to improve their defense before extending Mayfield. His deal will come, it just doesn’t need to be in 2021. Not when he still has two years of control at a far cheaper price.