Browns' Baker Mayfield: My Performance This Season Will Impact Next Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

CLEVELAND, OHIO - DECEMBER 22: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the bench against the Baltimore Ravens during the third quarter in the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield might only be approaching his third season in the NFL, but he knows his performance in 2020 could have significant consequences going forward.

In a conference call with reporters, Mayfield discussed his mindset heading into the season and how he's already keeping in mind his next contract:

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Baker Mayfield: "I have a different approach.” He says every player has said the same thing. “It’s time to work. It’s time to do our thing instead of talking about it."

Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano

More Mayfield, asked if this is a “make-or-break” year. "There no doubt that year three is always a big deal with these contracts, timing-wise.” "If I play better, our team is going to do better."

It isn't a stretch to say this year could be pivotal toward determining Mayfield's long-term future in Cleveland.

As a first-round pick, he's signed through 2021 and the Browns have a team option for the 2022 season. Next offseason, the front office will have to decide whether it wants to give Mayfield what will be a significant one-year pay raise or let him hit free agency.

The Chicago Bears declined Mitchell Trubisky's fifth-year option in March, meaning he could be on to a new team four years after the Bears selected him second overall in the 2017 draft.

While Mayfield has outperformed Trubisky to this point, the people who would potentially feel most invested in his development are gone. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry were both hired this offseason. If Mayfield is judged to be a bust, then they probably wouldn't receive a ton of blame.

To some extent, the Browns have reaffirmed their commitment to Mayfield while making it clear they expect results.

Stefanski was the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator in 2019 and has worked in offensive roles for almost the entirety of his coaching career.

Cleveland also solidified the passing game by signing tight end Austin Hooper and strengthened its offensive line by adding a pair of tackles (Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr.). Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are all back as well.

Mayfield's supporting cast is undoubtedly better than it was heading into 2019. Should the inconsistency he showed carry over in 2020, the franchise might start to have reservations about his suitability under center.