It used to be a matter of course that whenever a halfway decent quarterback who was drafted in the first round comes time to receive an extension, he gets one. For the names higher up the list, that usually comes after their third season. Yet two prominent members of the 2018 NFL Draft class are currently heading into the final years of their rookie deals without any indications of an extension imminent.
While I think it’s only a matter of time before discussions between the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson heat up (Jackson is representing himself), I do think it’s fair to question whether or not that Cleveland Browns are prepared to commit to Baker Mayfield.
Former Browns and Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III seems to agree, and he believes Mayfield needs to have the type of season that another quarterback in his shoes once had, recalling his own former teammate, Joe Flacco, and saying that Mayfield has the most pressure of any player in the NFL.
“I don’t know if it’s the deal that really puts the pressure on Baker, but I think Baker is under the most pressure of anybody in the league. He’s got more pressure on him than Aaron Rodgers’ bowels did during his 12-day cleanse”, he said on ESPN recently.
.@RGIII believes Baker Mayfield is under more pressure than anyone in the league 👀
“If he doesn’t run the table and win a Super Bowl, I think we might’ve seen the last of Baker Mayfield in Cleveland after this next season.” pic.twitter.com/Uck3Sl3rd9
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 24, 2022
“Baker needs a Joe Flacco-type of year. He needs to run the table and win a Super Bowl”, he added. “Anything short of that, he’s not gonna get the public to buy in on him, he’s definitely not gonna get the people in the front office to buy into him being the quarterback past 2022”.
Flacco was a first-round pick of the Ravens in 2008, and while he helped bring the team to the postseason in each of his first four seasons, his own individual performance was still underwhelming relative to average quarterback play. Baltimore allowed him to play out the final season of his rookie contract, Flacco opting to see if he could better his position.
And they ended up winning the Super Bowl in 2012 on the back of an admittedly statistically gaudy postseason run. He threw for 11 touchdowns in four games, which remains tied for an NFL record and zero interceptions. Griffin does seem to think we could see that from Mayfield.
“We’ve got to realize, Baker’s a guy that always performs at his best when his back is against the wall and no one believes in him”, he said. “He went from a walk-on to being a Heisman Trophy winner, and I believe he needs that kind of turnaround in Cleveland for anyone to take him seriously. But if he doesn’t run the table and win a Super Bowl, I think we might have seen the last of Baker in Cleveland after this next season”.
It certainly would be quite interesting if we end up seeing Mayfield play out the final year of his deal. He was injured for nearly the entirety of the 2021 season, and it clearly affected his ability to perform in a significant way. He went 11-5 and took the Browns to the postseason the year before that with a 26-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.