Browns GM Doesn't View Carson Wentz as a 'Cautionary Tale' for Baker Mayfield

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates a touchdown pass in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Cleveland. The Browns won 24-22. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

While some extensions for young quarterbacks have spectacularly backfired, that won't impact the Cleveland Browns' decision-making process when the time comes to potentially commit long term to Baker Mayfield.

Jared Goff (four years and $134 million) and Carson Wentz (four years and $128 million) have both been moved this offseason after previously signing massive contracts, thus forcing the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles to absorb a lot of dead money.

Browns general manager Andrew Berry told reporters Wednesday the team will make up its mind about Mayfield largely independent of what other franchises have done:

"I don't know that anything that has happened to any of the other 31 teams has a major bearing, in terms of how we are going to address the quarterback situation here. To me, we'll evaluate that internally and make a decision we think is best for our team and our organization. I think it would maybe be a stretch to say that's going to serve as a cautionary tale or any type of blueprint for us. We'll make the best decision for us with the information we have."

Cleveland hasn't officially picked up the fifth-year option on Mayfield's rookie contract, but he's almost certain to remain with the team for at least 2021. Unless the Browns make a play for Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson, it's hard to see how they can find an upgrade over the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner this offseason.

Landing on the value of Mayfield's next deal will be far trickier, though.

After going backward in his second season, the 25-year-old was far more efficient in 2020. Although his passing yards fell from 239.2 per game to 222.7, he more than halved his interception total (21 to eight), threw for more touchdowns (26) and saw his QBR climb from 54.4 to a career-high 72.2.

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The trouble for the Browns is that Mayfield has performed like a very good quarterback and not necessarily one of the best in the league. It's tough to know where his ceiling is. Maybe he'll be even better with Odell Beckham Jr. back healthy.

That could work to Cleveland's favor this offseason, however.

Prior to hammering out his extension with the Eagles, Wentz played at an MVP-caliber level in 2017 as the team went on to win the Super Bowl. Likewise, Goff was coming off his second Pro Bowl, and the Rams had reached Super Bowl LIII in the season preceding his pay raise.

Both quarterbacks attained heights Mayfield hasn't, so they were in a strong bargaining position. At the moment, Mayfield doesn't have that kind of leverage.