Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said Wednesday he's not focused on a potential contract extension ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
"I think everything will play itself out," he told reporters. "I'm not worried about it at all because if we win we're heading in the right direction."
Mayfield is entering the fourth season of his $32.7 million rookie contract with the Browns. The front office already exercised an $18.9 million fifth-year option for 2022.
Mayfield, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, endured an up-and-down first two years in Cleveland.
The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions during the first half of his rookie campaign (sat out first two weeks). Then he showed signs of progress over the season's final eight games, compiling 19 scores and eight picks.
After a mistake-filled 2019 season, which he finished with 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, he finally looked like a franchise quarterback for a full year in 2020. He completed 62.8 percent of his throws for 3,563 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight picks, and Cleveland advanced to the AFC Divisional Round after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card matchup.
Now the key question is which of the standout quarterbacks from the 2018 draft's first round —Mayfield, the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen and Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson—will sign an extension first to set the market.
Jack Mills, Mayfield's agent, told Tony Grossi of TheLandOnDemand.com in June they weren't planning to wait to see a deal for Allen or Jackson.
"We're not going to be dragging it out," Mills said. "I think there's been enough contracts done for quarterbacks lately that give us a pretty good idea of what the market is. And, of course, we know that the [salary] cap isn't going up this year but it’s going up next year and next."
He added that the hope was to get an extension done "this summer."
Mayfield and the Browns are one of the top contenders in the AFC heading into 2021, so Cleveland runs the risk of seeing the extension's potential value increase even further if the quarterback builds off his 2020 success and guides the team on a deep playoff run.
So it's probably in the best interest of both sides to get the new deal done in the coming weeks, though it's not a necessity since the Browns exercised their 2022 option and they retain the ability to use the franchise tag in future years if they don't reach an agreement with their quarterback.
The Browns are scheduled to kick off the regular season Sept. 12 when they visit Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs, who've reached the Super Bowl out of the AFC in the last two years.