The Cleveland Browns have made the call on Baker Mayfield. On Friday, the team announced they have excised the fifth-year option on the star quarterback as well as cornerback Denzel Ward. Both players were selected by the Browns in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and will remain under contract through the 2022 season.
"Both of those players have really done a nice job for us over the first three years," Browns general manager Andrew Berry said. "We view both of those guys as young players who continue to ascend." According to ESPN, Mayfield will make $18.86 million for the 2022 season. After struggling in 2019, Mayfield had a strong 2020 campaign, leading the team to their first playoff win in 26 years. I the wild-card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mayfield threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-37 win.
Mayfield looked more comfortable in the new offensive scheme created by head coach Kevin Stefanski, who was entering his first year with the franchise. "I hope it is significantly better," Stefanski said this week when asked about Mayfield improving with another season in his scheme per ESPN. "He has heard these plays over and over again. We have streamlined concepts, and we have tried to adjust what we do based on his strengths and our players' strengths. I would hope he is much more comfortable from that perspective. That is what time allows you to do - time together."
When the Browns clinched a playoff spot, Mayfield said they were looking for more despite reaching that big mark. "We're not satisfied," Mayfield said in January. "We expected to be here. We worked extremely hard to get here and we're excited to have the chance to be in the playoffs." He also talked about the reaction from the fans after securing a spot in post-season play.
"It's a moment I'll definitely never forget," Mayfield said. "The feeling of walking off the field, the energy in the stadium, they're playing 'Cleveland Rocks' ... for it to be that loud with a limited amount of fans, it was a special moment for us."