After playing well as a rookie in 2018, Baker Mayfield’s production dipped across the board last season, casting doubt on his long-term viability in Cleveland.
At this point, do the Browns view Mayfield as their quarterback of the future?
“Well, this year I think they do – and they’re in that situation where they have to, but I think they want to believe that,” 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas said on Tiki & Tierney. “But this is really the year that will determine it because if he doesn’t have the year that they hope and they expect, then next year is going to be totally different and there’s a chance that there’s a quarterback competition and he’s maybe not the guy long-term for them.
“But if he plays the way they hope and expect this season, then it’s going to be pretty easy to start talking about contract extensions and him being the guy for another 10 years,” Thomas continued. “So this is really a huge year for Baker. It’s kind of that make-or-break where they either commit to him long-term or they commit to bringing in somebody else and opening it up to be a quarterback competition.”
In 2018, Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his passes and threw a rookie-record 27 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions. In 2019, however, he completed just 59.4 percent of his passes and threw for 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. He was also sacked 40 times – 15 more than in 2018 (25).
Still, Thomas, who played his entire 11-year career with the Browns, believes Mayfield can be a franchise quarterback in Cleveland.
“I do because I think the quarterback we saw as a rookie, when he set the touchdown passing record for rookie quarterbacks, I think that’s who he is,” Thomas said. “Last year was just a bad combination of coaching staff and system that didn’t work for him. Baker is a confident guy and sometimes it goes a little too far, and that was the coaching staff. Sometimes when you get a little overconfident, you lose track of the details and [the] preparation [and the] approach that I think it takes in the NFL to be great. But I think the humbling that he took last year and the . . . great coaching from Kevin Stefanski this year will be a recipe for success. I think those guys can be together for at least 10 or 12 years.”