CLEVELAND- The sad reality is not everyone agreed with the Cleveland Browns decision to extend quarterback Baker Mayfield’s contract. From a passing statistics standpoint, it would be all too easy to question General Manager Andrew Berry’s decision to effectively decide that Baker Mayfield is the franchise quarterback. When including the Wild Card Game against Pittsburgh, he threw for 4,030 yards and 30 touchdowns. The passing yards may not be all that impressive but it’s easy to simply look at the passing yards alone. It takes more homework than that to figure out why Mayfield earned his extension.
One thing Mayfield put a lot of work into was pass accuracy. He threw eight interceptions in 2020 which was 14 fewer than his 22 interceptions in 2019. Granted, the Browns spent a lot of money in free agency upgrading the offensive line before the 2020 season. When the Browns drafted Jedrick Wills, that also was a big move. Mayfield had more time to make reads which really helped his progression. Mayfield had a quarterback rating of 95.9 which was even better than his 2018 quarterback rating of 93.7.
Perhaps it’s time for Cleveland to end the bad luck and bad planning of switching quarterbacks every year. Mayfield continues to be the starter as he should be. Investing in one quarterback is something Cleveland hasn’t done a good job of since returning to the league in 1999. The long list of starting quarterbacks includes Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye, Jake Delhomme, Brandon Weedon, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III, Tyrod Taylor, and Mayfield. Granted, the list is longer than that but that’s ten of them right there. The fact that the Browns had more than 10 starting quarterbacks since rejoining the league in 1999 is an NFL anomaly. No team should go through more than 10 starting quarterbacks in a 21-year period. That simply isn’t supposed to happen. Kudos to Berry for being the general manager who’s standing firm and not wavering.
The Browns will likely continue to start Mayfield until he retires or joins another team. Right now, Mayfield is the rightful franchise quarterback. Does he need to improve and sharpen his skills? Absolutely! He may need to work on avoiding passes that are too high. However, with more receiving options, the top offensive line in the league, and a second-year under Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield’s progression is just beginning. There is no way he is in prime just yet but that time is coming. With Rookie Anthony Schwartz, second-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and the return of Odell Beckham, it might be a career-best year for Mayfield.