The Cleveland Browns made the aggressive move a year ago to sign Myles Garrett to a contract extension in June. Garrett, a former first overall pick, was entering his fourth season and was under control for two more years when the deal was struck. They basically set the precedent that they would have to do similar by Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick one year later, and at the premium position of quarterback.
Mayfield was the first of five quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2018. A couple have more or less already faded—Josh Rosen specifically, and increasingly so, Sam Darnold—but the other three are all accomplished, having achieved victory in postseason play.
But the Browns sat around and waited, and allowed the Buffalo Bills to beat them to the punch, signing Josh Allen to a six-year extension wroth $258 in new money, with an average of $43 million per season—roughly the midpoint between Patrick Mahomes’ $45 million per year over 10 years and Dak Prescott’s four-year, $160 million deal.
So what does that mean for Mayfield? According to Browns general manager Andrew Berry, not much. He went on ESPN to discuss the situation over the contract status of that year’s quarterback class, and made it clear that they were not viewing Allen’s deal as some sort of baseline.
“I think really for any player or any positional market we’re always aware of the deals that have been done over the past couple years and certainly any new deals that come up over the next couple weeks because we realize that it impacts the market to some degree”, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk transcribes from Berry’s ESPN appearance.
“But at the same time with any player that we’re considering extending we really deal with it on a case by case and individual level and really operate within the parameters that we think make sense for our organization and our team and that’s what we’ll continue to do across positions”.
I’m certain that something will get done between the two parties between now and the start of the season. I don’t know what the numbers will look like. These quarterback contracts are becoming increasingly nuanced in terms of length and average value, with teams no longer taking a ‘slotted’ approach that resulted in Joe Flacco briefly being the top earner in the NFL.
Speaking of Flacco’s former team, the Baltimore Ravens have the exact same question on their plate with Lamar Jackson, who already has an MVP title under his belt. They may have a more extended timeline, though, as unlike most teams, they are very willing to do in-season contracts, as they did with Ronnie Stanley last year.