Every quarterback situation in the NFL is slightly different. For Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns there are a ton of variables to unpack but, in the end, an extension should get done.
Rarely does a franchise quarterback end up on another team early in his career. The rare times one does move on is either later in their career or when an injury forces a situation.
Worst case scenario, like we saw with Dak Prescott, the Browns have the franchise tag to use to keep Mayfield in Cleveland for at least two extra years. Both sides, likely, don’t want to see that happen.
With less than a month before training camp starts, this is a good time to take a look back on six recent contract extensions and when those deals got done both relative to the quarterback’s years in the league as well as actual dates the deal was done. Can that information help set expectations for a Mayfield extension?
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Mahomes is in a class of his own in the NFL both in terms of his play on the field and his enormous contract extension. Mahomes, like Mayfield this year, was coming off his third season in the league when he signed his extension on July 6th. Prior to signing his extension, Mahomes had won an MVP and, more importantly, a Super Bowl title for the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Prescott was one of the few quarterbacks that actually played on the franchise tag with the team that drafted him. He was not drafted in the first round so his rookie contract was only four years. Prescott played the 2020 season on the tag before getting hurt with a gruesome injury during the season. The Cowboys were prepared to franchise tag him again when they signed him to a four-year extension on March 10th of this season. Given his free-agent status, the timing of Prescott’s deal is less telling for Mayfield.
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Prior to the off-field allegations, Watson was considered closer to Mahomes than anyone else when it came to the future. Watson, like Mahomes, was going into his fourth season when he signed his four-year contract extension with the Houston Texans on September 5th. Watson and the Texans were able to come to terms just before the start of the season. That could be a cutoff point for negotiations between Mayfield and the Browns but not necessarily.
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The only recent extension on this list that is a player’s second extension, and third contract, Wilson signed on with Seattle for another four years in April of 2019. Wilson had a year left on the contract extension he signed with Seattle in 2015 when he extended that deal in 2019. The extension coming off his four-year rookie contract was signed late in July.
(AP Photo/David Dermer)
Jared Goff is the first of two quarterbacks on this list that are used as cautionary tales for the Browns. Goff signed his four-year extension early in September of 2019, just before the season started, similar to Watson. Goff was also going into his fourth year in the league when he signed his deal. Goff was traded to the Detroit Lions this offseason, less than two years after signing his extension.
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The second of the two “cautionary tales” is Wentz, drafted one pick behind Goff in 2016. The top two picks in 2016 have a lot in common. Wentz signed his extension also in 2019, two months prior to Goff. His June extension was also for four years before his fourth season started. Like Goff, Wentz was also traded this offseason less than two years after he signed his extension.