The Cleveland Browns have a number of contract extensions they would like to get finalized this summer and their top priority is likely to be quarterback Baker Mayfield, who Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is reporting could be the first of the 2018 quarterback class to have a deal done.
Mayfield, the top overall pick of the 2018 class has been a good quarterback, verging on great. The Browns have taken a similar approach to the Philadelphia Eagles where they want to pay players earlier to get them potentially cheaper while eliminating any uncertainty for the player.
The Browns were abler to negotiate Myles Garrett's lucrative contract extension last year, which ended up saving them money compared to Joey Bosa's contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, who waited until he was entering his option year.
Garrett is set to average $25 million per year annually starting in 2022 while Bosa averages $27 million annually starting this coming season. A $10 million difference in raw dollars, the salary cap rising each year will make that difference more significant for the Browns in terms of their operating room over the life of the contract.
Mayfield has been in a pair of playoff games and was a major reason the Browns were able to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in the wildcard round. Although the Browns fell short, he willed the offense against the Kansas City Chiefs into giving them a chance to win.
However, compared to Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, he has the least accolades. Jackson won the MVP in 2019 and Allen was an All-Pro last year.
That might simplify negotiations slightly between the Browns and Mayfield. The organization may believe Mayfield is every bit as talented as the other two quarterbacks, but they might have more perceived leverage.
Jackson is operating as his own agent in negotiations with the Ravens, which could also delay contract talks.
The Browns have long decided Mayfield was their guy. They also understand the advantages in getting a deal done now as well as first in terms of maintaining their long term cap flexibility.
Mayfield also gets a sizable amount of income from endorsement deals, which is a factor that could play a role. It could make him more patient to get a deal done because he can afford it, but it also might focus him more on increasing his chances on winning the Super Bowl over maximizing every dollar in contract negotiations.
The Browns have as many as seven players they could look to extend in all, so the faster they can knock out Mayfield, the faster they can move on to players like Denzel Ward, Wyatt Teller and Nick Chubb. Getting Mayfield done sets the table for everything else.