The 2021 Cleveland Browns have a star-studded roster.
Led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, the team is poised to potentially outperform its 2020 record of 11-5 and make a deeper playoff run.
Mayfield is in his fourth year with the Browns.
He was the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the Browns exercised his fifth-year option so he is expected to be with the Browns until at least the end of the 2022 season.
Darnold is with a new team so it is unclear what happens after his fifth-year option runs out.
Like Mayfield, Allen and Jackson are still with their drafted teams.
Allen and Jackson have earned more individual honors so their deals are expected to be more costly than Mayfield’s.
Is that a fair assessment?
It is too soon to say.
There is also a school of thought that the first of these three quarterbacks will be the “cheapest” and that could be Mayfield.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN talked about this recently.
“So some people around the league believe this could get done the soonest because Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are mostly top-five-to-seven quarterbacks. They’re considered high-end guys, where Baker is still working his way into that. Maybe a bit of a different market could be easier to get done.”
What will Mayfield’s deal look like?
Timing will dictate the value.
Extension Signed Before 2021 Season
Mayfield’s agent believes his deal will be signed and sealed before September 12.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) June 23, 2021
Here are some of the numbers associated with a potential Mayfield extension.
What does a 2021 Mayfield contract extension look like?
– 4 year deal
– $136m in new money
– $110m guaranteed
– $23m signing bonus
– $22.7m roster bonus in 2022
– $19.8m roster bonus in 2023
— Jack Duffin (@JackDuffin) January 23, 2021
This proposed deal would be in the neighborhood of $34M per season.
Extension Signed Later
Mayfield, for his part, has not shown any concern about the timing of his extension.
Baker Mayfield on a potential contract extension: "I'm in no rush. Right now I'm focused on winning games. … Cleveland is a blue collar town that values hard work. I think that's part of why it's been such a good fit…. I believe everything happens for a reason."
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) June 16, 2021
If the Browns wait and Mayfield has a career 2021 season, there will be more dollars attached to the deal.
The Browns under GM Andrew Berry have been good money managers, but it still is a leap of faith and a lot of money no matter when the deal is done.
The precedent the Cowboys set with Dak Prescott is definitely a situation that needs to be avoided.
The Cowboys waited and ultimately used the franchise tag.
Opinions vary on whether Prescott is worthy of his hefty $40M annual paycheck.
However, a great 2021 season from Mayfield could put him closer to Prescott’s 4 year $160 million contract.
Thus far, Patrick Mahomes‘ 10 year $450 million contract is the gold standard.
Mayfield has not earned the accolades or championship that Mahomes has already in his career so his deal should not command as many dollars.
Though Browns GM Andrew Berry says that how Allen and Jackson’s extensions are handled has no bearing on Mayfield’s deal with the Browns, that is not entirely true.
It is the idea of creating the market value for quarterbacks of the same age, draft class, and round.
All are presumably not at their peak but have already led their teams to the playoffs.
Watching how these deals unfold has ramifications around the NFL.