CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield didn’t lose his starting job after a losing season.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry said Tuesday the team expects the quarterback to return as its starter next season and rebound after an injury-filled, sub-par 2021 that raised questions about Mayfield’s future with Cleveland.
Mayfield tore a labrum in his left shoulder in Week 2, but continued to play while wearing a harness. The injury contributed to him playing poorly and contributed to the Browns (8-9) missing the playoffs despite high expectations. He’ll have surgery on Jan. 19.
Berry said the team is confident Mayfield will “bounce back.”
“We’re looking forward to Baker getting healthy in the offseason, and then having the type of season we know he can have moving forward,” Berry said.
Part of the rationale for sticking with Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, is the team’s familiarity with him, knowing his work ethic and his past success in coach Kevin Stefanski’s system, Berry said.
It’s still possible the Browns could pursue other options at quarterback, but Berry remains confident Mayfield will play better.
The Browns have already exercised Mayfield’s $18.9 million contract option for next season, but have yet to discuss a long-term extension with the QB, who led them to the postseason and a playoff win in 2020.
Berry said he’s not concerned about Mayfield potentially entering next season without a contract beyond 2022.
Mayfield sat out Sunday’s season finale against Cincinnati and missed two other games — one to rest the shoulder, one after testing positive for COVID-19.
The 26-year-old Mayfield went 6-8 as a starter this season. He completed 253 of 418 passes with 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, including seven in his last three games.