The 2021 Cleveland Browns offseason has largely focused on the free agent signings and draft picks.
However, there has also been discussion about Baker Mayfield‘s contract extension.
Though Mayfield’s fifth year option has been exercised keeping him with the Browns until the end of the 2022 season, there is talk that the Browns will get a contract extension done with him sooner than that.
There are pros and cons to each strategy.
Here are the three benefits of paying Baker Mayfield later.
1. See What Happens With The Salary Cap
The Browns have the luxury of time.
Though the 2021 season promises to have full stadiums, there is still a lingering concern about COVID-19.
COVID-19 wreaked havoc with the NFL’s salary cap going into the 2021 season.
If there is a possibility that full stadiums may not happen, the salary cap can be adversely affected for 2022.
Before 2021, the salary cap has been rapidly increasing so the 2021 decrease could be just a blip or the beginning of a long-term adjustment.
NFL salary cap by year:
And now for 2020: $198.2M
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 15, 2020
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a $208.2 million salary cap ceiling for 2022, per source.
There is no cap floor as of now. The sides agreed last August to spread the COVID-related revenue shortfall from 2020 over several years, and the cap dropped to $182.5M this year.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 26, 2021
Why commit the funds before knowing how much could be in the bank when Mayfield’s contract isn’t expiring anyway?
2. See What Happens With Mayfield’s Peers
Some around league feel Baker Mayfield's deal might be the easiest to do among the three QBs eligible (Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson). And both sides are open to doing something. But as @bepryor points out, he's a bet-on-himself kind of guy. https://t.co/zttLCkUsAd
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 1, 2021
The other benefit of taking time is to see what the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills do with Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, respectively.
Though they play for different teams, they were all first-round draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft so their contracts expire at the same time.
Some argue that whichever of the three gets signed first will be at the bargain price, but no one knows that for a fact.
3. Deal With More Pressing Contract Issues
The Browns are a young team so expiring contracts are going to become the norm.
GM Andrew Berry has a lot of planning to do because the funds are not endless.
A higher priority would be the players who could be free agents at the end of the 2021 season.
The two most notable players in this situation are running back Nick Chubb and guard Wyatt Teller.
Both are integral to the Browns’ success, and when they were not on the field last season because of injuries, their absence was noticed and felt in the lack of productivity for the Browns on the ground.
The top-4 graded #Browns on offense in the 2020 regular season:
Wyatt Teller – 92.4
Nick Chubb – 87.7
Jarvis Landry – 85.8
Jack Conklin – 85.2 pic.twitter.com/dqJPVComUc
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) January 15, 2021
Berry’s earning his money and using that Harvard degree to figure out the best long-term strategy for the Browns.
Keeping the integral parts together is important, but it is also vital to do it at a reasonable price.
The Browns do not want to overpay any of their players.
Mayfield (and Chubb) have both expressed interest in staying in Cleveland so hopefully that factors into any forthcoming negotiations.
Crippling the team by chewing up the salary cap on one player does not help anyone.
The wealth needs to be shared with the rest of the team including the offensive line who was part of the reason Mayfield played so well in 2020.
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