The Cleveland Browns picked up the fifth-year option on quarterback Baker Mayfield.
They also notified cornerback Denzel Ward they would pick up his fifth-year option.
Neither move was unexpected as both players are set to be part of the Browns’ long-term plans.
As per the latest collective bargaining agreement, this guarantees the 4th and 5th-year salaries of the players.
We've exercised 5th-year contract options for @bakermayfield and @denzelward
Details » https://t.co/lRrcR88EBa pic.twitter.com/PJBIYAjByY
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 23, 2021
This is a change from the past as Browns fans saw with David Njoku‘s situation.
It wasn’t until the new NFL year started in March that his fifth year was guaranteed.
Mayfield’s deal will earn him $18,858,00 for the 2022 season.
He will bring home around $5 million this year, although he counts as over $10 million in cap dollars.
Ward will take home $13,294,000 for his fifth season, after $4.6 million this year.
Thanks to Ward’s 2018 Pro Bowl appearance, his option salary received a boost.
But both players can be considered a bargain considering their status with the team.
What About Contract Extensions?
There is much speculation about contract extensions for each of these players.
Exercising the fifth-year options buys the Browns time to deal with that matter.
And Andrew Berry might want to work on Nick Chubb and Wyatt Teller extensions first.
Chubb and Teller are free agents heading into 2022.
Baker Mayfield had a 50% completion rate on deep passes last season
1st among all QBs 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MjEigAt7j3
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 15, 2021
While that doesn’t rule out extensions for Ward or Mayfield, it is likely the Browns prefer to wait.
Despite hopes to fill stadiums in the upcoming season, there is still some concern.
The NFL’s new television deals ensure a higher salary cap next year.
And there is no word from either the Mayfield or Ward camp that they are looking for extensions before then.
In both cases, the delay could cost Andrew Berry.
Players Betting On Themselves?
Even though the 2022 salaries are guaranteed, additional years are very much in play.
New contracts for quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen could reset the market.
Signing Mayfield before those players eliminates the comparison game.
Even if Andrew Berry can argue about statistical differences, going further into the postseason helps Mayfield.
#Browns Denzel Ward was PFF's fifth-highest-graded cornerback in man coverage during the 2020 season pic.twitter.com/eJRpH842A8
— Sam Penix (@Sam_Penix) April 11, 2021
Alex Van Pelt and Kevin Stefanski expect Mayfield to lead a more explosive offense.
Baker Mayfield’s continued progress in Stefanski’s system could earn him millions more after 2021.
Berry would lose any leverage about uncertainty or uneven performances before last year’s playoff run.
Unless Mayfield regresses in 2021, in which case the Browns can avert a contract disaster.
Likewise, Denzel Ward can earn himself a longer extension and more money with his 2021 season.
Simply playing in all 16 games will allow him to drop the “injury-prone” label.
Of course, another top-ranked coverage ranking won’t hurt, either.
alex gaal says
Watching the rankings scroll on the ticker of the NFL channel. Seems EDGE rushers’ ranks vary with every scroll. Those wrs look good though. the picks in 3 and 4 will put us in nice roster positions. Browns are already dominant next year. It’ll be fun to watch Chubb and Hunt again. Don’t ever lose these guys.