Baker Mayfield

Browns, Baker Mayfield Have Not Exchanged Proposals

Baker Mayfield‘s agent, Jack Mills, recently predicted that his client and the Browns would agree to terms on a contract extension this summer. But that might be a bit optimistic. According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Mayfield’s camp and the Browns have not even exchanged proposals yet, and she suggests that a new deal might not get done until late October.

Why then? Because at the start of the 2020 season, for which there were no spring workouts and no preseason, Mayfield was still getting used to head coach Kevin Stefanski‘s offense. But as Cabot observes, Mayfield was Pro Football Focus’ second-highest-rated QB over the final seven games of the year, and both player and team believe that is more representative of who Mayfield is (even though he did have some quality performances over the first few weeks of the campaign as well). By waiting until the end of October to authorize a massive extension, the Browns will essentially have a full season of data on how Mayfield performs in a quality offense that he completely understands.

The Browns are also working on new contracts for other key members of the roster, like CB Denzel Ward, RB Nick Chubb, and G Wyatt Teller (this is the first we have publicly heard that the club is talking contract with Teller and Ward, though it’s hardly a surprise). The front office might want to get those less costly pacts out of the way before turning its full attention to the Mayfield situation.

And Mayfield, who is perfectly content to bet on himself, also has reason to wait. If draftmates Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson sign extensions with AAVs in excess of $40MM, Cabot says Mayfield will not “settle” for a $35MM AAV, which Spotrac currently considers to be his market value.

At this point, Cleveland and Mayfield have no doubt that a deal will get done. It’s really just a matter of when.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns, Baker Mayfield

The Browns have Baker Mayfield under contract through 2022, thanks to his fifth-year option. Now that the quarterback is firmly in extension territory, agent Jack Mills believes that a long-term arrangement is just around the corner. 

I think something will be done this summer,” Mills said (via Tony Grossi of WKNR). “As far as trying to get a deal done, I don’t know if it’ll get done. It’s something that would be pretty much in the team’s control.”

Mayfield’s fully-guaranteed $18.858MM salary for ’22 is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s less than 14 other quarterbacks are making in average annual value. For his part, Mayfield says he isn’t sweating it.

I’m in no rush because I’m just trying to win games,” the QB said earlier this month. “Like I said, it’ll handle itself. I’m sure [agents] Tom and Jack Mills are handling that. I don’t try and feed too much into that because it’s like wasting my time and energy and thought process on things I’m not in control of right now.”

After the Browns declined to pursue Aaron Rodgers this offseason, it’s safe to say that they’ll move fast to get Mayfield locked up for years to come.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Baker Mayfield “In No Rush” To Sign Extension

Browns QB Baker Mayfield is under club control through the 2022 season after Cleveland exercised the fifth-year option of his rookie contract earlier this year. That option is worth a fully-guaranteed $18.858MM, a healthy sum to be sure, but there are 14 quarterbacks making more than that on an annual basis.

Still, Mayfield doesn’t sound too concerned about when he will secure his place among the league’s high rollers. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft told reporters today, “I’m in no rush because I’m just trying to win games. Like I said, it’ll handle itself. I’m sure [agents] Tom and Jack Mills are handling that. I don’t try and feed too much into that because it’s like wasting my time and energy and thought process on things I’m not in control of right now. So I’m going to handle what I can control” (via Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk).

The last we heard, the Browns had not yet initiated extension talks with Mayfield’s camp. Owner Jimmy Haslam, however, made it clear that his team has every intention of keeping Mayfield in Cleveland for the long haul, which is why the Browns — a trendy Super Bowl pick — are not interested in disgruntled Packers star Aaron Rodgers.

Both sides do have reason to wait, though. After all, Mayfield was a mess in his sophomore campaign, and while he appears to have righted the ship under the steady hand of head coach Kevin Stefanski last season, the Browns might want him to prove that he can sustain his success. And Mayfield — who said today that he has no problems betting on himself — may prefer to have 2018 draftmates Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen ink their big-money extensions first.

Barring an All-Pro type season, Mayfield is unlikely to earn as much on his next contract as Jackson and Allen will on theirs, but their deals will still help push Mayfield’s price point a little higher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WR Rumors: Jones, Toney, Giants, OBJ

Julio Jones trade rumors first surfaced because the Falcons identified his contract as a way to create much-needed cap space, but later reports indicated the decorated receiver requested a trade out of Atlanta in March. Traded to the Titans for a package headlined by a second-round pick, Jones described his Falcons divorce as mutual.

We discussed everything. We just made the decision,” Jones said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was just cut and dry. There was nothing toward football; it’s business. So, you just had to accept whatever happens, happens. Like I said, it was a mutual agreement on it. We just split up.”

The 32-year-old wide receiver built a Hall of Fame resume in Georgia and, for a bit this spring, was slated to team with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. But this reality never appeared to be on the table. Jones did, in fact, request a trade in March, Ledbetter adds. The All-Pro target said his Atlanta exit did not come about because of the team’s transition from the Dan Quinn era to an Arthur Smith-led staff. The Titans agreed to take on all of Jones’ $15.3MM guaranteed 2021 salary, separating them from the rest of the trade suitors.

Here is the latest wide receiver news from around the league:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. skipped much of the Browns‘ 2019 offseason program and did not work out with Baker Mayfield during the COVID-19-marred 2020 offseason. Beckham was rehabbing an offseason surgery at that point. Despite having torn an ACL Oct. 25 of last year, OBJ joined Jarvis Landry in working out with Mayfield in Austin this week, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. Landry confirmed Beckham was running routes at Mayfield’s workouts, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A lack of chemistry between Beckham and Mayfield has been evident during their 1 1/2 seasons together; extra reps should help ahead of a key season for the former Pro Bowl wide receiver. The Browns, who have seen many veterans stay away from OTAs, will convene for minicamp next week.
  • Kadarius Toney also avoided his team’s OTAs, skipping the Giants‘ pre-minicamp workouts. The first-round pick doing so surprised the team, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Toney did not sign his rookie contract until last week but had inked a waiver to protect himself in case of an injury during OTAs. Rookies often work out with their teams before signing their deals. Toney’s four-year, $13.7MM contract is fully guaranteed.
  • Shortly after the Giants selected Toney 20th overall, Joe Judge called Sterling Shepard to discuss his future with the team, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I thought it was necessary to talk to Shep specifically because when we drafted Toney, the word in the press as he was reading those headlines was specifically he’s a slot receiver,” Judge said. “Which, look, we are not bringing in someone to play one position. I thought it was relevant at the time to contact Shep out of respect for how he is with our program to communicate that with him.” Shepard is the longest-tenured Giant, arriving during the Jerry Reese regime. Although Shepard is signed through 2023, the Giants can create more than $6MM in cap space by moving on from him next year. The sixth-year veteran is expected to play more in the slot, following Kenny Golladay‘s arrival, after working there a career-low 34% of the time in 2020.

Browns Won’t Pursue Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers wants out and plenty of teams figure to chase the Packers star. However, the Browns won’t be among them, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer (Twitter link).

Some have speculated that the Browns could upgrade from Baker Mayfield to the reigning MVP. That won’t be happening, because the Browns are “ecstatic” about Mayfield’s progress in 2020, which culminated in their first playoff win since the ’99 reboot. Meanwhile, the Packers see Jordan Love as their future solution under center, which means Mayfield wouldn’t make much sense for them.

The Packers star looked as sharp as ever last year, but the Browns prefer the long-term upside of their 26-year-old passer to the 37-year-old. Meanwhile, Rodgers is looking for a multi-year pact to reflect his most recent performance. The Browns were happy to exercise Mayfield’s option worth $18.858MM for 2022. Beyond that, the Browns will be willing to furnish Mayfield with $30MM-$35MM per annum if he stays on course. And, no matter where Rodgers lands, he’ll want something in the neighborhood of Dak Prescott‘s $40MM/year deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-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.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

Latest On Extension Talks Between Browns, QB Baker Mayfield

The Browns have yet to engage in negotiations with Baker Mayfield on a long-term deal. However, owner Jimmy Haslam made it clear that it’s more a matter of when, not if, Mayfield will sign an extension.

[RELATED: Browns Exercise Option On Baker Mayfield]

“We’re are all pleased to see the growth in Baker last year both as a player and as a leader,’’ Haslam said during a recent press conference (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “We all understand how important quarterback is in the NFL. We were delighted to see that.

“Baker deserves a fifth-year option, and he and Andrew [Berry] have both addressed the possibility of things after that. We’ll leave that up to Andrew to decide when that happens, but we’re well pleased with where Baker is.”

It’s a bit refreshing to see an owner defer to his general manager, but Haslam seems to be hinting that Mayfield would stick around Cleveland for the foreseeable future. There’s no real rush for the two sides to agree on a long-term pact, and it makes some sense for both sides to exercise patience. For the Browns, they can continue to evaluate the progress of the former first-overall pick, especially following a career year where Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

For Mayfield, it makes sense to wait for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson , who could easily land a five-year deal in excess of $210MM, putting him just behind Patrick Mahomes‘ league-leading average annual value. Mayfield would command less than the Ravens QB, but Jackson’s deal could push Mayfield’s ask above $35MM/year.

For what it’s worth, Mayfield isn’t all that worried about a lack of extension, with the 26-year-old noting that he has greater priorities at the moment.

“Whatever happens, happens, but it really is out of my control at this point,” Mayfield said (via Cabot). “The fifth-year option just happened so a long-term deal is a little bit on the back burner for me. I am not worried about it. I want to go out and win games. I think everything happens for a reason so we will see what happens.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Talks Yet For Browns, Baker Mayfield

In a relatively easy decision, the Browns chose to pick up Baker Mayfield‘s fifth-year option on Friday. However, the Browns have not rushed to kick off extension talks with the quarterback, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer hears.

[RELATED: Browns Pick Up Baker Mayfield’s Option]

I think you know me well enough that I’m not going to talk on that in this setting. I just don’t think it’s appropriate,’’ Browns GM Andrew Berry said earlier today. “But obviously you know both of those players [Mayfield and Denzel Ward] are extension-eligible.”

It’s not necessarily a bad situation for Mayfield, who may prefer to wait for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson, who is representing himself, recently started chatting with Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta about his next deal. Jackson could easily land a five-year deal in excess of $210MM, putting him just behind Patrick Mahomes‘ league-leading average annual value. Mayfield would command less than the Ravens QB, but Jackson’s deal could push his ask above $35MM/year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Exercise Options For Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward

The Browns will pick up the fifth-year options of quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward (Twitter links via Jake Trotter of ESPN.com and Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). 

Mayfield will make $18.858MM in 2022 while Ward will earn $13.294MM. 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, including playing time and Pro Bowl appearances.

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.

Ward, meanwhile, has battled health issues since he entered the league. He has missed at least three games due to injury in each of his first three seasons — not 2020’s COVID-19 absence. On the other hand, his performance between the lines has been everything the Browns could have hoped for when they made him the No. 4 overall pick in 2018. He earned Pro Bowl honors in his rookie season, and despite the missed time due to injury, he has tallied 40 passes defensed and seven interceptions — including one pick-six — in his young career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.