The Cleveland Browns can learn from the mistakes of the Los Angeles Rams.
On the surface there is not a connection between the Cleveland Browns and Jared Goff. After some brief information gathering reality starts to set in. The Los Angeles Rams have provided a template in what not to do with a quarterback and that should allow the Browns to handle their own quarterback situation correctly.
That quarterback situation of course is Baker Mayfield. Mayfield and Jared Goff are not that different, they require a certain type of offense with a certain talent level around them to be successful. Both quarterbacks began their career with less than adequate coaching and eventually found their way to a better coaching situation. It was then that the quarterbacks improved and appeared to be worthy of a contract extension, that is when the trouble started for Los Angeles. The Rams picked up Goff’s fifth-year option and just a few months later handed out a contract extension that has aged horribly. Goff’s contract has to be one of the worst quarterback deals in the league which is why so much draft capital was attached in order to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Lions.
So how does this relate to the Browns and Mayfield?
Here is how. Los Angeles was not able to determine who is more responsible for his turnaround. Was it Jared Goff himself or was it Sean McVay? As it turns out, it was clearly McVay. For the Browns they find themselves in the situation the Rams were once in. Not only do the Browns run an offense that at the core is similar to that of Los Angeles, they have a quarterback that succeeded in it.
Cleveland now needs to determine who is more responsible for the success of Baker Mayfield during the second half of the 2020 season. Was it Mayfield or Kevin Stefanski? This one is even easier than the question for the Rams, it is Stefanski. Stefanksi is the reason why the offense was catered to Mayfield’s strengths. It was Stefanski who schemed players open which gave Mayfield easy passes to complete and put him in a position to succeed.
How do the Browns approach contract extension talks with Mayfield?
This is easy, right now they don’t. The Browns should pick up Mayfield’s option and make him prove that he is able to be successful over more than half of a season. Right now there has been two seasons where Mayfield played better over the final eight games and that should be in the minds of the decision makers for Cleveland. The mistake the Rams made with Jared Goff was committing too early when they didn’t have to.
The temptation for those who like to discuss a potential extension with Mayfield is getting out ahead of a large number and the pursuit of a bargain down the road. As we saw how things unfolded with Goff this is not a guarantee and can backfire fairly easily. With the numbers that a lot of people are projecting for Mayfield, it would require moving on from players at the skill positions that he needs in order to be successful. This is all before acknowledging the possibly of regression from Mayfield and how it would negatively impact the team.
What the Browns must do is not repeat the mistakes of the Rams. Sure, they’ve essentially failed upward, but they had to pay a price in order to do so. Cleveland must wait until after year four of Mayfield before even entertaining contract extension talks. The way things worked out with Jared Goff in Los Angeles is the perfect example of why they should operate in that manner. If not, a repeat of the mistakes of the Rams could play out in Cleveland and result in a much larger issue for the Browns.