CLEVELAND — It took more than 10 minutes into Andrew Berry's end-of-season press conference for the subject of Baker Mayfield's contract status to come up.
Unsurprisingly, the Cleveland Browns general manager was prepared.
"I was warned that I may get this question today," Berry said with a smile.
WIth Mayfield having just finished his third season in Cleveland, the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft enters the upcoming offseason eligible for a long-term extension. And while Berry was hesitant to discuss Mayfield's contract status publicly, he did reiterate how vital the Oklahoma product's play was to the Browns amassing an 11-5 regular-season record and the franchise's first postseason victory since the 1994 season.
"In terms of contracts, I don't think this is the appropriate forum to really talk about those decisions. I think that's something that's a little bit more personal to me, the player and the agent," Berry said. "He did an excellent job this year. He led us to our first playoff appearance in eons. He got us to 12 wins, played winning football all year, developed a really strong relationship with [head coach] Kevin [Stefanski] and the offensive staff. And really, as I mentioned last week, he really grew on a weekly basis both on and off the field.
"So we're really, really pleased with him. Look, we wouldn't be where we were at the end of the season without his performance. He had a really strong season."
Reading between the lines of Berry's comments, it isn't hard to imagine the Browns and Mayfield engaging in extension talks this offseason. While there are still some moving pieces at play, including uncertainty regarding the league's salary cap, it appears Cleveland is prepared to commit to Mayfield as its franchise quarterback.
As for what such a deal might look like, Spotrac projects the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner's market value to be a four-year deal worth $140,806,156. And while an average annual salary of $35.2 million would mark a substantial increase for Mayfield, who is set to make $920,000 in base salary in 2021, Berry said he isn't concerned about Cleveland's window for contention closing with its quarterback no longer under a rookie contract.
"We'll have plenty of flexibility regardless of how any of that shakes out," Berry said. "I'm really encouraged with what we'll be able to do this offseason."