Fifth-year options will soon require bigger commitments from teams, with the 2018 first-round class being the first group that will see their options fully guaranteed if exercised. Although the No. 1 overall pick from that draft has enjoyed an inconsistent career, his rookie contract will soon run through 2022.
The Browns will “definitely” pick up Baker Mayfield‘s fifth-year option, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. This will be one of two options the Browns would be on course to exercise this year, with the team needing to make a fairly easy decision on Denzel Ward‘s option by May 3.
Mayfield slogged through a brutal 2019 season, throwing 21 interceptions — the NFL’s second-most that year — and regressing after showing promise under Freddie Kitchens in 2018. However, Mayfield fared much better in Kevin Stefanski‘s offense last season. The former Heisman winner ranked 10th in QBR with a 72.2 mark — by far a career-high figure — and cut his interception total down to eight.
Mayfield’s option call will be the easier of the two decisions the Browns will need to make regarding his contract status. He became extension-eligible in January, but considering the uneven path the 6-foot-1 passer’s career has taken, it would make sense for the Browns to want to see more before entering serious extension talks. The Rams and Eagles respectively extended Jared Goff and Carson Wentz before their fourth seasons. Less than two years later, the teams that held the Nos. 1-2 picks in the 2016 draft took on record dead-money sums in trading those quarterbacks.
The Bills and Ravens are on track to discuss extensions with their 2018 first-round passers this offseason, though John Harbaugh said a Lamar Jackson deal could also happen in 2022. These re-ups taking place this year will drive up the market for teams eyeing extensions in 2022, and although Jackson and Josh Allen have put together better seasons than Mayfield has, each 2018 first-round QB’s contract talks will be relevant to the others’ negotiations. It will be interesting to see how the Browns proceed here this year, with the franchise having extensive issues at quarterback since rebooting in 1999.
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