The Cleveland Browns made a clear and definitive statement on the future of Baker Mayfield on Tuesday, naming the former top overall picks their starter for the future.
It was a tumultuous week for Mayfield, spanning a tidal wave of criticism and trade rumors, as the Browns concluded a disappointing season. Mayfield was replaced as a starter after his disappointing, injury-ridden season. However, General Manager Andrew Berry ended that conversation when speaking to the media at his year-end press conference.
“We wholeheartedly expect Baker to be our starter and recover,” Berry told reporters. “In general, we’re looking forward to seeing Baker obviously getting well in the offseason and then doing a good job in the spring and with his coaches to have the kind of season that we know he can lead into the future. “
Mayfield insisted on 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions that season, but collapsed on the track, throwing seven of those interceptions in the last three games, with the Browns chasing a playoff spot.
Mayfield is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. Usually teams and players want to have an extension done before a deal expires, but Berry doesn’t seem too concerned about the teams getting things done.
“We have a lot of guys who will make it through to the final [contract] Year or something like that, ”said Berry. “That is not really part of the calculation for us. Every year you will have people with expiring deals. “
Berry was asked again if he would have a “lame duck” quarterback in 2022, which he resisted.
“I don’t know if I would classify it that way. Again, there are a number of players in all positions entering the final few years of their deals, ”Berry said. “It’s not that important to me.”
While some fingers were pointed at Mayfield because the Browns had no offense, Stefanski also took some heat as the team’s offensive game caller. Alex Van Pelt is on the staff as the offensive coordinator, and some have loudly called for him to be given a chance to call plays, which happened twice while Stefanski was out with COVID-19. However, Berry is confident that Stefanski will run the show.
“Feel good with Kevin as the game caller. I think that’s one of his strengths, ”said Berry. “There are a lot of things that we need to improve over the next few months and it really has to work together. I don’t think it’s any thing or a silver bullet. Therefore we will tear it apart and plan the best way, be it personnel, schematic or operational, with a view to an improvement in 2022. “
The Browns also have to make other decisions on the offensive side of the ball. The wide receiver group needs a major upgrade while the tight end David Njoku needs an expansion to stay in Cleveland.