CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
Following an offseason's worth of speculation, Baker Mayfield entered his fourth season with the Cleveland Browns without having signed a long-term contract extension.
And while the Browns' quarterback has previously stated his willingness to bet on himself, it appears his team is also taking a "wait and see" approach.
In a report published on The Athletic on Thursday, NFL insider Jeff Howe reported that while the relationship between Mayfield and Browns remains "positive," the two sides find themselves in a "holding pattern" when it comes to contract talks. A big reason why is that the Browns have yet to officially offer the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft a long-term extension, opting instead to get a longer look at Mayfield's play.
"From the Browns’ perspective, they want to see Mayfield produce over a longer stretch of time in second-year head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offensive system," Howe wrote. "They believed Mayfield was much better over the second half of last season, particularly with 15 passing touchdowns and just two interceptions over the final eight games, including a playoff victory against the Steelers. By comparison, Mayfield had 15 touchdowns and seven picks in the first seven games in 2020."
Cleveland's long-term approach could prove mutually beneficial.
The more sustained success Mayfield finds throughout the 2021 season, the more leverage in negotiations he'll gain. The Browns, meanwhile, don't appear to mind potentially paying their 26-year-old signal-caller a bigger contract a year from now, so long as it means having seen him play at a high level for another season before doing so.
One game into the 2021 campaign, that appears to be where these negotiations are headed. In Cleveland's season-opening 33-29 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Mayfield -- who remains under contract through the 2022 season -- showed why he's willing to bet on himself, completing 21 of his 28 pass attempts for 321 yards and one interception.
"I've bet on myself my whole life," Mayfield said regarding his contract status at the Browns' mandatory minicamp in June. "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."