Baker Mayfield

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Browns Plan To Pick Up Baker Mayfield’s Fifth-Year Option

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Green, Mayfield, Big Ben

During the Bengals’ loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, receiver A.J. Green moved within one touchdown of Chad Johnson for the franchise’s all-time record. But while he was chasing that milestone on the field, his comments after the game might be more significant. Speaking to the media, Green made it “very clear” there’s a good chance he won’t be back in Cincy next year, Ben Baby of ESPN.com writes. “I love my time here,” Green said. “Who knows what is going to happen? I will be ready for anything and be excited to get back to playing football whether it is here or somewhere else.” It’s a stark shift in tone for Green, who has always insisted he envisioned himself playing his entire career with one team.

Green is in the midst of a disappointing season that was supposed to be a triumphant comeback for the former All-Pro after he missed all of 2019 with an ankle injury. Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on him this offseason to buy some time on making a long-term decision, but his production obviously hasn’t matched his price tag so far. There was speculation earlier this year that he wanted to be traded after his usage declined, although he publicly denied that. So far on the year Green has caught only 41 of 88 targets, racking up 419 yards and two touchdowns. Baby notes that Green’s tone has “drastically changed,” and it looks like we might be nearing the end of what was a legendary run with the Bengals. For many years in a row, the fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft was one of the best wideouts in the game. Assuming he does explore his options on the open market this spring, at 32 and coming off multiple recent injury-plagued years, he likely won’t be getting any sort of big contract.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Baker Mayfield had himself a night on Monday Night Football, even as the Browns fell to the Ravens. The former first overall pick has really turned it on recently, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com wrote even before last night’s game that the young quarterback was “playing himself into blockbuster extension territory in the offseason.” Kay Cabot writes that the coaching staff in Cleveland has grown convinced as the season has gone on that they’ve got their quarterback of the future, and that if he closes the season strong “he can expect to receive the blockbuster extension in the offseason.” It’s been a nice turnaround for the Oklahoma product, as his struggles early on in the year had many questioning whether he was the long-term answer for Kevin Stefanski. With his performances the last few weeks, he’s silenced most of the critics. He has only one interception in his last six games, and has the Browns on the verge of clinching a playoff berth. Mayfield is still under team control for two more seasons after this one, and Kay Cabot writes that at the very least the Browns will be exercising the fifth-year option in his contract for 2022 this offseason. It sounds like he’s about to get a whole lot more than that though.
  • Mayfield isn’t the only member of the Browns looking for an extension. Receiver Rashard Higgins is playing out the final year of his deal, and while Kay Cabot writes Cleveland will “likely” re-sign him, she also says nothing is imminent on that front. While she notes that players like Higgins are in a holding pattern as teams wait to see what the 2021 salary cap will look like, she also says he “will likely be wrapped up long-term.” The 2016 fifth-round pick had a huge touchdown on Monday night, and now has at least 65 yards in three of his past four games. His playing time has fluctuated through multiple different coaching staffs during his time with the team, and he had only four catches in ten games last year. But when given the opportunity he has usually delivered, like when he had 572 yards and four scores in 13 games in 2018. Now, it sounds like he might finally get rewarded after playing 2020 on a deal that paid him only $910K.
  • The Steelers have now lost back to back games, and Ben Roethlisberger has struggled mightily in both of them. Even before Sunday’s loss to the Bills, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports wrote that sources told him Roethlisberger’s lingering knee injury has “become a source of greater concern” within the organization. Interestingly, La Canfora reports that Roethlisberger’s close relationship with offensive coordinator Randy Fitchner “has been the cause of some worry” within the team. La Canfora notes that Big Ben is granted wide authority to change calls as he sees fit, and the implication seems to be that he has been checking out of runs too much and dictating the short passing game offense that has begun struggling mightily in recent weeks. Roethlisberger has now gone four straight games averaging 5.8 yards per attempt or fewer. The ground game still wasn’t able to get anything going against Buffalo, and if Roethlisberger’s knee issue turns out to be more serious than we’ve realized, this Steelers offense could be in permanent trouble. This will be a situation to monitor as the regular season draws to a close.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/11/20

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DL Tyrone Crawford
  • Claimed off waivers from Colts: DL Ron’Dell Carter

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Browns Place QB Baker Mayfield On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Browns have placed starting quarterback Baker Mayfield on the reserve/COVID-19 list, according to a team announcement. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network was first to report the news (via Twitter), and the team’s statement can be found here.

Luckily, Mayfield did not test positive for the coronavirus. Instead, he is considered a close contact with a staff member who tested positive, and Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal says that staff member is not a coach. Based on when the contact occurred, Mayfield could be back at practice on Wednesday if he continues to test negative.

Since the Browns have a bye this week, it appears that Mayfield won’t miss any game action. If something should change in that regard, Case Keenum is available to take the reins.

Mayfield has had an up-and-down season in 2020 after a disappointing sophomore effort last year. He was terrific in a Week 7 win over the Bengals, but he flopped in Cleveland’s Week 8 loss to the Raiders. At 5-3, the Browns still have a good chance at a playoff berth, especially considering their favorable schedule, but questions about Mayfield persist.

On the season, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft has completed 61.4% of his passes and has thrown 15 TDs against seven picks, good for a 90.9 QB rating. But he has feasted on teams with poor defenses and has struggled against playoff contenders.

He will have a chance to right the ship against the Texans next week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Baker Mayfield’s Job Not In Jeopardy

Browns QB Baker Mayfield‘s inconsistent play this season, combined with his disappointing sophomore campaign in 2019, has led to plenty of speculation that the former No. 1 overall pick could be benched in favor of backup Case Keenum. However, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says that’s not going to happen.

Per Cabot, Mayfield will get the final 10 games of the season to prove himself. Though she does add that he may not keep his job if he continues to throw a high number of interceptions, the Browns are still high on Mayfield and believe his performance will improve.

Mayfield obviously offers far more upside than Keenum, and Cleveland has far more invested in the third-year passer, so the decision is not an especially difficult one. Still, the fact that Mayfield has played well against poor defenses in 2020 and has struggled mightily against the better teams is cause for concern. He did play through sore ribs in last week’s blowout loss to the Steelers and had only one full day of practice leading up to the game, so perhaps there is reason for optimism moving forward.

After all, the 4-2 Browns have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, and after they battle the Bengals this afternoon, they will have a bye next week. At that point, Mayfield should be completely healthy and ready to lead a talented offense towards a playoff berth.

If he does play well down the stretch, Cabot says Cleveland will certainly pick up his fifth-year option, though the team’s evaluation may be made more difficult by the relatively low level of competition that Mayfield will be facing. If he does not play well, or if he continues to be hit-or-miss, new GM Andrew Berry will have a very tough call to make.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Garrett, OBJ, Mayfield

On Sunday, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett will face off against the Steelers for the first time since last year’s infamous contest. During the final moments of Cleveland’s win over Pittsburgh last November, Garrett ripped off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and proceeded to hit him over the head with the object. The fracas resulted in a season-ending suspension for Garrett.

The 2017 first-overall pick told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that he considered walking away from the game during his ban.

“I would’ve been OK,” Garrett said. “I love football. I love competing, I love my teammates, and I definitely want to win, but at the end of the day, I’m still a guy. I’m still a young man who has a lot of life to live and my life is much more than football. I just would’ve moved onto something else I enjoy and found another way to save my competitive nature, whether it would’ve been trying out for a basketball team or going to play baseball like [Michael] Jordan.

“I would’ve found something else I love to do, whether I was a writing coach or whatever. I would’ve left with my head held high and I wouldn’t have looked back.”

Garrett hasn’t missed a step following his return to the field. Through the first five games of the 2020 campaign, the 24-year-old has 15 tackles, six sacks, and a league-leading three forced fumbles.

Some more notes out of Cleveland:

  • Garrett also told Cabot that he’d welcome a face-to-face meeting with Randolph. “If it were to happen, I’d be fine with it,” he said. “Not just fine, but I wouldn’t mind it and I’d be happy to make it happen, if there were a way. I’m not sure how I’d go about that, how I’d broach that. I’m not even sure if he’d want to do that but I wouldn’t have a problem sitting down with him and just not talking about the incident, just talking man-to-man, how we move forward, and just being better men and football players and not letting something like that happen again…Whether we can do that, I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to extend the olive branch and make that happen.”
  • Cabot tweets that wideout Odell Beckham Jr. had his second COVID-19 test come back negative today. As a result, he’s been cleared to play against the Steelers tomorrow. The receiver was sent home Thursday after coming down with an illness, and he stayed away from the team facility on Friday. ESPN’s Jake Trotter notes that Beckham continued to participate in meetings remotely. Following a three-touchdown performance in Week 4, Beckham had five receptions for 58 yards during last week’s win over the Colts.
  • After suffering a rib injury during last weekend’s win, Baker Mayfield was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately, he was back to full participation on Friday, and despite his questionable tag for tomorrow’s game, it sounds like the quarterback is on track to play. “Like we’ve been saying all along, he’s improving every day,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski (via the team’s website).

Injury Updates: Mixon, Mayfield, Mahomes

Week 1 of the NFL season unfortunately saw a bunch of big names go down. Nick Foles is out indefinitely after breaking his clavicle, and Tyreek Hill will miss a few games with a shoulder issue. They weren’t the only ones to suffer potentially significant injuries, and we’ve got all the latest updates down below:

  • The 49ers already suffered a blow to their deep backfield when they placed Jerick McKinnon on IR prior to the start of the season, and now they’re down another member of the group. Tevin Coleman was knocked out of their Week 1 game against the Bucs by an ankle injury, and he left the locker room with a boot on his foot, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Maiocco notes he’ll have an MRI on Monday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game he was “concerned” about Coleman’s ankle, Matt Barrows of the Athletic tweeted. Shanahan also implied the team will promote Jeff Wilson Jr. from the practice squad, and said the team will look at adding outside running back help. Matt Breida figures to take on a more prominent role in the meantime while Coleman is sidelined.
  • Speaking of running backs with ankle injuries, Joe Mixon suffered one of his own. The Bengals’ runner is “believed to have just an ankle sprain,” according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, who tweets that “early reports [are] optimistic.” It’s unclear how sever the ankle sprain is, although fortunately it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a longterm absence for the Oklahoma product.
  • Baker Mayfield had a rough game in his highly anticipated 2019 debut. He threw three interceptions, and to make matters worse also hurt his hand. Mayfield had his wrist and hand wrapped and went for an X-Ray after the Browns’ to the Titans, sparking some concern. Fortunately he suffered only a bruise and the injury is “not considered serious,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • Fans were also left holding their breath when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes went limping off the field. Mahomes returned to Kansas City’s win over the Jaguars, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game Mahomes had a sprained ankle, according to Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It doesn’t sound like Mahomes will miss any games, although his mobility may be limited moving forward.
  • The Falcons got blown out by the Vikings, and they also lost a key piece. The team fears that rookie first-round pick Chris Lindstrom fractured his foot, according to Jay Glazer of The Athletic (Twitter link). Lindstrom won the competition to start at right guard, and the organization thinks very highly of the 14th overall pick. Lindstrom’s rookie year could be over, as former NFL team doctor David Chao tweets the type of fracture “will determine if part of the season can be salvaged.” Even if he does make it back, it won’t be for a while.

Latest On Dolphins, Josh Rosen

Sent to the Dolphins for second- and fifth-round picks, Josh Rosen apparently did not go on the trade block until minutes before the Cardinals selected Kyler Murray.

Steve Keim texted Rosen’s agent, Ryan Williams, just before the Murray pick to give him permission to join the Cardinals in finding a Rosen trade partner, Robert Klemko of SI.com reports. When Keim asked Williams if the Patriots were interested in making Rosen Tom Brady‘s heir apparent, Williams wondered why this wasn’t worked out weeks ago — when the Murray-to-Arizona rumors started.

The Redskins laughed at the Cardinals’ request for a first-round pick, per Klemko, who adds Keim did have a contingency plan that involved keeping both Murray and Rosen on the roster.

The Dolphins did not enter into the Rosen equation until the draft was 20 minutes old, with the Giants’ and Redskins’ first-round quarterback picks eliminating the other primary Rosen suitors. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if the NFL was responsible for the Cardinals’ 11th-hour approach to dealing their previous starter, with a pre-draft Rosen trade removing the drama surrounding the first overall pick.

When Keim and Chris Grier spoke at the Combine, Rosen’s name did not come up, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Grier called Keim about Rosen 20 minutes into the draft, but Breer adds the GMs did not reconnect on the quarterback until Friday afternoon.

We’d fielded some calls from some people asking if we were willing to move down in the second round,” Grier said, via Breer. “Our goal before the draft was, if we’re able to pick up a first or a second in 2020, that was something we’d consider. But we were more than willing to take a player at (pick No.) 48. There was a player we really liked. And we had a couple calls.

We were ready to pick at 62 (after a trade with the Saints). And I’m telling you, Steve was pushing hard for what he wanted, and so were we. So we were to a point there where I wasn’t sure if it was going to get done or not.”

Miami’s previous front office studied Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen more closely than Rosen as prospects last year, Breer notes, due to the thinking, at the time, those two had a better chance of dropping to the team’s No. 11 overall draft slot in 2018. Because the Dolphins were able to land Rosen at an extreme discount, compared to his No. 10 overall price last year, Grier said the pick will not stop them from looking at first-round-caliber quarterbacks next year.

Every team in the league is looking for that guy that’s going to lead them to championships,” Grier said. “And so for us, we’re in a position where we’re trying to find that guy, like a lot of teams in the league. So yeah, it was an easy decision. And it doesn’t stop us from doing anything in the future. Who knows? If things go well and we feel he’s the guy, who knows? But it doesn’t stop us from doing anything.”

The Dolphins were the first team reported to be playing a 2020 long game at quarterback, having been connected to what is expected to be a Tua Tagovailoa– and Justin Herbert-fronted 2020 class for months. They will enter this season with Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick headlining their quarterback room, likely set to observe the former’s development while studying top college prospects. The Cardinals will go into OTAs with Murray and Brett Hundley as the main cogs in their quarterback room.

I absolutely would have competed if (the Cardinals) kept me, but I would’ve been kind of bummed about it because I knew I wouldn’t get a fair shake,” Rosen said, via Klemko. “A GM’s not going to draft a quarterback and draft another one the next year, higher, and then play the first one. It’s admitting you made two mistakes. It just wouldn’t happen.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

Having ended their veteran quarterback search with a Ryan Fitzpatrick agreement, after pursuing Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor, the Dolphins continue to embark on a rebuilding track. In fact, the word “tanking” came up during one of the team’s head coach interviews, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Chris Grier, as could be expected, denied the team will use 2019 to tank.

Often one of the most active teams during free agency, the Dolphins this year have parted ways with starters Ryan Tannehill, Josh Sitton, Ted Larsen, Andre Branch and Danny Amendola. They let Ja’Wuan James and Cameron Wake walk. This leads Salguero to the notion the Dolphins are indeed tanking with the prospect of being in best position to land a high 2020 draft pick and have cap space when that league year begins. As of now, early projections have the Dolphins at $107MM in 2020 cap space — second in the league behind the Cowboys. And with Dallas set to extend several young talents, Miami looks poised to lead that pack. Fitzpatrick has made at least eight starts in a season nine times; his teams finished with a winning record in one of those seasons. Sunday’s move lends further credence the Dolphins are targeting the 2020 quarterback class.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Rob Gronkowski has not given the Patriots his decision on if he will continue his career in 2019, but if the future Hall of Famer wants an extension, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes this cannot happen until August 30 — a year after his previous contract adjustment, per an NFL rule. Long dissatisfied with a contract he agreed to in 2012, Gronkowski would be entering the final year of that deal if he returned for 2019. The Patriots could approach Gronk about a pay cut, however, at any point this offseason, per Volin. Gronkowski is due a $10MM salary and to count $11.86MM on the Patriots’ cap. The latest word on Gronk’s status is a return for a 10th season is more likely than a retirement.
  • Conversely, a Tom Brady extension can happen at any point this offseason. Since the Patriots did not adjust their quarterback’s cap number via the unmet incentives last year, Volin notes they can extend his contract before the 12-month mark from when the team included those incentives. Brady’s deal appears likely to be adjusted, with the 41-year-old passer’s contract-year cap figure sitting at $27MM.
  • Dialogue about the trade that moved the Jets up to last year’s No. 3 overall pick began at the 2018 Senior Bowl, with Jets VP of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger approaching Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds that January about a possible trade, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Christopher Johnson emphasized the Jets focus on quarterback scouting in 2017, primarily Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. The Jets targeted No. 3 overall because their sources indicated to them the Giants were zeroing in on Saquon Barkley, Cimini adds. Gang Green put its plan B into action a year ago today after Kirk Cousins spurned them.
  • The Dolphins are interested in acquiring a fullback, which marks a change from recent years. Specifically, they are exploring the addition of Michael Burton, per Salguero. Burton was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2-rated fullback last season but only played 49 snaps, not enough to qualify for full-time status. Only five fullbacks did meet those standards, illustrating this position’s scarcity on most teams. If not Burton, a four-year veteran who has played in Detroit and Chicago, Miami may target another UFA blocking back.
  • Prior to LaAdrian Waddle signing with the Bills, the Patriots conveyed interest in bringing him back, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Pats kept an open dialogue with their swing tackle but were not willing to match the Bills’ offer, Reiss adds.