CLEVELAND — As the 2021 NFL season approaches, much of the attention being paid to the Cleveland Browns has been focused on whether quarterback Baker Mayfield will sign a contract extension.
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But while some believe that the Browns would be best off signing Mayfield to a new deal now in hopes of inking him to a below-market contract, it appears that won't be happening.
Appearing on ESPN's "Get Up" on Thursday morning, NFL insider Jeremy Fowler was asked about the negotiations between Cleveland and its starting quarterback. And while Fowler stated that Mayfield's contract situation is more straightforward than fellow 2018 draftees Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, that doesn't mean the former No. 1 overall pick will be taking a discount to get a deal done.
"I've talked to execs who think that Baker Mayfield's deal is the easiest to do because Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen are considered more in that top five-to-seven range of quarterbacks in the league, a little bit of a higher tier, proved a little more," Fowler said. "And then Mayfield's money might be a little more manageable as a result, if the Browns can get it to the finish line. But Mayfield is hardly going to take a discount here. I know the Browns are going to look very hard at this."
Fowler's comments echo a sentiment that was shared by Mayfield last month when he stated that he wasn't in a rush to get a new deal done this offseason. Still under contract in Cleveland for the next two seasons, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner would only see his value increase should he take the leaps many expect him to in his second season under Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Of course, there's a potential downside to waiting, as a disappointing 2021 campaign could result in Mayfield receiving a lesser contract offer in the future. But as a former walk-on who developed into one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history, the Oklahoma product has never been shy to take matters into his own hands.
"I've bet on myself my whole life," Mayfield said at the Browns' mandatory minicamp last month. "I've always taken it one day at a time, one play at a time. Like I said, I'm not going to handle it any differently now."