Baker Mayfield has had a rocky season. Some weeks, he looks exactly like the quarterback we expected, the kind of talent that justifies a Heisman Trophy and a No. 1 overall selection. Other weeks, he looks like he just started playing the game of football.
Inconsistency has been one of the hallmarks of Mayfield's career to this point, but it's been especially bad this year. Most of that can be attributed to the various injuries he's suffered this season -- he separated his non-throwing shoulder early in the year and has a new knee injury to deal with after taking a big hit against the Patriots last week. But even with context, it's concerning for the Browns. Mayfield is up for an extension this offseason. His resume makes a case that he should get paid quite a bit. His season thus far, though, suggests Cleveland should think twice before inking him to a long-term deal.
Jay Glazer, appearing on the Pat McAfee Show, hinted that the Browns are indeed thinking twice. When asked by McAfee what to expect with the Browns and Mayfield this offseason, Glazer said the Browns are going to consider all their options. He didn't rule out giving Mayfield a long-term extension, but it is not a sure thing by any means.
Glazer's lack of confidence in the Browns' willingness to offer Mayfield a long-term deal no questions asked is notable because these are the Browns. They have been searching for competent quarterback play for decades. Mayfield hasn't been the no-doubt superstar that a No. 1 overall pick should be after four years, but he is easily the best Browns quarterback to take the field since... Brian Hoyer's 2007 season? The Tim Couch days? You really have to think hard about that, which is merely another indicator of how dire things have been in Cleveland.
Whatever his flaws, Mayfield is a key cog in this Browns team, the best in a long time even if they aren't looking like Super Bowl contenders. He is a controversial figure because on his bad days, he is bad. But on his good days, he's good enough to win a lot of games with a quality team around him.
And that's just it. In standard NFL team-building, finding a decent quarterback is usually the hard part. Teams are loathe to let go of even competent QBs because if you don't have that then you cannot win, hard stop. Mayfield's flashes of excellence makes one think it's a no-brainer to keep him in Cleveland for the long run. But it's very easy to think about what could be during Mayfield's flashes of shockingly terrible play.
This offseason is not a hard deadline. Cleveland could make Mayfield play out the fifth year of his deal without an extension, and they'd have more reason to do that considering his injury issues not allowing him to play up to his potential. They have a big decision to make-- and right now, it sure seems like they're thinking about taking the riskier path.