NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport believes Baker Mayfield will be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns for years to come.
Rapoport said he thinks Mayfield is the eighth- or ninth-best quarterback in the NFL during Thursday’s edition of “The Pat McAfee Show.”
On Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, backup Case Keenum will start in place of Mayfield.
Mayfield has played through a torn labrum in his left shoulder since Week 2 of the season.
“I don’t get it. Do you get this?” Rapoport said. “Let’s say Case Keenum goes out and the Browns win 28-17 or something like that, you are going to hear the sorted hot takes about how he should be the starter. (Keenum) should not be the starter.
“Baker is good. He is playing through a torn labrum. It’s painful. It affects how he throws and his accuracy. To me, unless I’m literally crazy, Baker Mayfield is the future starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns just like he’s the current starting quarterback.”
If Case Keenum BALLS OUT tonight it's gonna get LOUD.
"Unless I'm literally crazy Baker Mayfield is the future starting QB of the Cleveland Browns.. he's probably the 8th or 9th best QB in the NFL" ~@RapSheet #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/8Q9PdbbfYp
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) October 21, 2021
Rapoport reported Thursday that Mayfield is expected to have shoulder surgery to repair the torn labrum after the 2021 season.
“It’s tender, it is swollen, it doesn’t sound like it feels very good, and when Baker Mayfield went out to try to practice on Tuesday, he went through practice a little bit, but it sounded like he knew that there’s simply not going to happen,” Rapoport said on the NFL Network. “There is a decent chance though, I would say a pretty good chance, that he’s able to play next week.”
The Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 31.
Rapoport said the Browns hope Mayfield can last the rest of the 2021 season.
From NFL Now: #Browns QB Baker Mayfield is expected to need labrum surgery following the season. pic.twitter.com/FltrvziARh
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 21, 2021
Rapoport said he expects Browns general manager Andrew Berry and the front office to work on an extension for Mayfield in the offseason.
Mayfield, 26, is under contract through the 2022 season.
“If you don’t have a quarterback, it sucks.” Rapoport said. “It really sucks, so maybe Baker Mayfield isn’t Lamar Jackson, but he’s probably the like the eigth- or ninth-best quarterback, which you can win a Super Bowl win that.”
It’s likely Jackson and Mayfield will seek a similar average annual salary to the extension signed by Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who is due to receive an average of $43 million per year through the 2028 season.
McAfee mentioned all the quarterbacks the Browns have gone through since selecting Mayfield with the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
In 2019, Mayfield became the Browns first quarterback since Tim Couch in 2001 to start in all 16 regular-season games.
“The Browns have that quarterback jersey that has 7,000 names on it,” McAfee said. “They finally win. They get to the playoffs. It would a very interesting move if they were like, ‘No, the grass is greener somewhere else. We’re going to get another young quarterback.’”
Ad agency replaces @Browns quarterback jersey with @BakerMayfield's No. 6 https://t.co/B6FJ3jjLo9 pic.twitter.com/wwSmZBzB20
— WSYX ABC 6 (@wsyx6) December 24, 2018
The Browns went 11-5 in 2020, and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
The Browns’ playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers marked their first postseason victory since Jan. 1, 1995.
McAfee acknowledged Berry has a tough decision to make in the offseason about Mayfield.
“That is going to be more of the salary cap,” McAfee said. “If you move on from the quarterback that finally won in your town, there’s a chance that the football gods will dunk on your f*****g head for eternity, don’t you think?”
“Right, you mess up all the karma,” Rapoport said. You mess up all the good juju.”
It’s possible the Browns might value Mayfield more than the NFL’s other 31 teams.
The Browns could also put the franchise tag on Mayfield for the 2023 season instead of signing him to a multi-year extension.
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