Baker Mayfield
The Cleveland Browns are in a tough situation. The decision to extend Baker Mayfield or not will make or break their roster years from now. (Aaron Josefczyk/UPI)

The Cleveland Browns are assembling a juggernaut of a roster. After killing it in the NFL Draft, and massive free-agent signings, they have one question left to answer: Is Baker Mayfield their franchise quarterback? With his rookie contract expiring after next season, Cleveland is in a tough position to answer that question. Questions of Baker’s extension will be a hot topic during the 2021 season. Baker Mayfield has looked like a world-beater at times, and then unspectacular. After three solid but not great seasons, he puts the Browns in a tough position. Their cap space going into 2022 will be tight as they have some star players under big contracts. There will be limited cap space considering Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, and Wyatt Teller are locks to be re-signed.

When looking at Baker Mayfield’s stats, they don’t do him much justice. Never throwing for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns is one thing, but a middling 62% completion percentage is far from saving grace. We all know Baker experienced one of the worst sophomore slumps in recent memory to the tune of 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Forgetting about that, Mayfield still wasn’t spectacular this past season in what was the best supporting cast around him. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered an ACL injury, but the run game of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt gave Baker opportunities to capitalize through play action. Consequently, he did lead them to the AFC divisional round after trouncing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watching that game, I think we all know Ben Roethlisberger was the main reason for Cleveland’s win (and/or the defense). Case Keenum could’ve started over Baker and the same outcome would’ve occurred.

Personally, I don’t think Baker Mayfield is a franchise quarterback. However, the Browns are in a position where they HAVE to pay him premium money. A 4-year $170 million deal is expected, which is too rich for my taste. The shortage of quality NFL quarterbacks means that if Cleveland won’t offer that, someone else will. The Browns have a win-now roster and need a quality quarterback to achieve that goal. Baker Mayfield isn’t ideal, but the alternative would be a Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s a tricky situation, but I expect Cleveland to reluctantly deal Mayfield a big-time contract. Will it lead to a Super Bowl? Who knows. But regardless of that, I expect Cleveland to regret that decision a few years down the line where they cannot re-sign more talented players due to Baker’s massive contract extension.