The Cleveland Browns inch closer to the 2021 campaign, and as the fans await kickoff, many are also anticipating a contract extension for Baker Mayfield that will keep him a part of the franchise for foreseeable future.
However, with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen inking a six-year contract that will pay him $43 million annually, one longtime Browns scribe believes “It’s obvious” as to what strategy the organization is using with Mayfield, while also noting that “It’s very strange they haven’t even exchanged numbers yet with the Baker Mayfield group.
Grossi contends the Browns are taking the opposite route of the Bills making their quarterback, Allen, the focal point of the team by working on his contract first.
Cleveland Browns analytics dept spooked?
Grossi made the following comments on ESPN Cleveland, via TheLandonDemand.com (subscription required), suggesting Cleveland’s analytics department is
"“The Browns have chosen opposite strategy. It’s obvious now. It’s obvious to me. This is what I think is now happening. The number they knew all along it was going to take for a franchise quarterback just spooks the Browns’ analytics department. They do not want to commit to that number. They haven’t even talked to Baker’s people to get that number. They just know it’s $40+ plus million a year…they don’t want to devote that kind of money to the quarterback, especially now with the stars they have coming up.”"
It’s hard to argue with Grossi’s suspicions considering the team’s recent moves. They gave Myles Garrett a big-money deal, but signed Kareem Hunt to a team-friendly deal. Then, just a few days ago, Cleveland signed his backfield mate Nick Chubb to another club-friendly contract.
Now, there are rumors Cleveland is looking to extend cornerback Denzel Ward, a player taken three spots after Mayfield went No. 1 in the 2018 draft. While unconfirmed, Twitter chatter will have you believe Wyatt Teller is also in line to get a new deal ahead of Mayfield.
"“Their strategy is to sign up the important guys after Baker to team friendly contracts, it’ss doable. Chubb gave them team friendly, Ward is a local guy who wants to stay here. They’ll probably feel like they can get that under market and whomever else they choose, whether it’s Teller, or they stop there, or what?"
Twitter chatter So, where’s Baker fit into this mix? Grossi said Cleveland will make the pitch that the core around him is secure, and then make him their pitch.
"“[They] create the situation, OK Baker, we’ve surrounded you with the core of this team, we only got so much left, so you got to fall in line. That’s what I can see happening. It’s the only conclusion I can come to. If they adopted the other strategy that Buffalo did, they should’ve signed Baker first, before Josh Allen. They could’ve got him for $40 million based on the Dak Prescott contract. But that number in itself spooks the Browns, I believe. It’s a risk. To me what they are doing is wrong, but its’ a calculated risk they could almost leverage him into taking less because that’s ‘All we have.'”"
Grossi was then asked if the Browns view Mayfield as “Replaceable.”
"“I’m beginning to wonder that, Grossi said. “I believe some of that might be in play.”"
Grossi has long questioned how much stock should be placed in analytics, and continued to question why analytics websites, such as Pro Football Focus, don’t attribute “wins” to a quarterbacks’ stats.
He contends that there’s a stat for everything, except leadership–something Mayfield has, evidenced by his signature winning performance against the Steelers in Pittsburgh during the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
So, would the Browns choose to plug-and-play quarterbacks–content to insert someone else into a team built to win?
“I don’t know if it goes that far, Grossi said, but it’s very strange they haven’t even exchanged numbers yet with the Baker Mayfield group.”
Grossi words certainly raise eyebrows and leads us to wonder just what the Browns are doing with the only quarterback to win a playoff game in the expansion era. The fan base won’t forgive the organization if they screw this up, so I’m confident something gets done.
If they want to wait a season and watch Baker play out 2021 before ponying up the cash, that’s fine. If its’ about risk, which Grossi alluded to, perhaps the front office wants to be sure the guy they do the give the money is “the guy” after all.