The Browns will be without quarterback Baker Mayfield when Cleveland hosts the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football.
Mayfield’s missing the game with a torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder. He’s part of an injury a mile long.
But in his absence–no one knows how many games he will miss–the Browns front office may get some answers about their future.
Mayfield is looking for a massive contract extension and from what’s been reported, Cleveland hasn’t begun to make a move. There was a post published here during training camp that the front office may be “Spooked” over allocating $40 million to a player.
That player is the quarterback though, and we know what a lot of bad ones look like. Mayfield has, by far, been Cleveland’s best field general since the Browns were reincarnated in 1999.
That said, when it comes to elite quarterbacks, no is putting Mayfield in the top five. He’s not even top 10. Critics will label him as a game manager enjoying success in an offense built for success on play-action fakes.
With Case Keenum getting the start against he Broncos, though, the Browns will be playing a true game manager, tasked with moving the chains, protecting the football and capitalizing off those aforementioned play-action fakes.
Keenum won’t enjoy all the perks as Mayfield, as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will be out with injury. The status of offensive tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills looks murky. He’s going to be under the gun all night.
So with this in mind, if Keenum finds a way to be successful with D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton running the ball, then perhaps, we’re getting a glimpse into why the front office didn’t talk contract with Mayfield and his agent before the season.
Conversely, if Keenum goes out there and can’t hit Lake Erie standing on the Mather, while the offense sputters, then the fan base will be wondering what it is the front office is waiting for.
Yes, there’s an injury at play now, and I don’t know how Mayfield can play again. He’s going to need surgery. It’s not like his shoulder is going to get significantly better with 10 days of rest.
So here we go. Keenum’s the proven vet being paid $6 million per season to perform in this moment. How much will Mayfield be missed? For better or worse, we’re about to find out.