Baker Mayfield was all smiles at Browns minicamp. Why not? He's in line for a mega-contract extension that will be the largest in franchise history. (Cleveland Browns)
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Editor’s note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
The agents for Baker Mayfield do not intend to slow the pace of contract extension talks for prospective deals for Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson to be completed first.
Nor do they have a plan to bet on Mayfield having a big year on the field and hitting a bigger jackpot by waiting for next season’s salary cap increase.
“We’re not going to be dragging it out,” Jack Mills told TheLandOnDemand.com. “I think there’s been enough contracts done for quarterbacks lately that give us a pretty good idea of what the market is. And, of course, we know that the [salary] cap isn’t going up this year but it’s going up next year and next.
“We pretty much know what’s coming on down the road and what’s been done. We don’t have any particular reluctance about doing a deal.”
Mills and his son, Tom, will negotiate what will be the biggest Browns contract in history. Mills said Tom has had general discussions with the Browns about a new deal but there have been “no specifics” or a timetable discussed so far.
“But I think something will be done this summer,” Mills said. “As far as trying to get a deal done, I don’t know if it’ll get done. It’s something that would be pretty much in the team’s control.”
Mills, 83, is an old-school agent with an enduringly spotless reputation. He has been negotiating NFL contracts for more than 50 years. A graduate of Oklahoma, Mills’ first major client was Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens in 1969. The OU connection attracted the Mayfield family and made Mills and his son a surprise choice while all the major agent groups vied for the 2018 Heisman winner from Oklahoma.
Mills’ association with the Browns goes back to the Kardiac Kids days. Based in Boulder, CO, Mills was the agent for receiver Dave Logan and offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure. His last Browns client was fullback “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell.
Mayfield is signed through 2022 after the Browns picked up their fifth-year option for that season for $18.8 million, which is fully guaranteed. He is eligible for an extension beyond that season.
While Mayfield said at minicamp last week he is “in no rush” for an extension and would be OK to wait and “bet on myself” to have a big year in 2021 and talk about a new deal next year, those sentiments do not mean the Mayfield clan want to postpone talks for a year.
“He’s pretty much up to speed on things,” Mills said. “I think he and Tom have talked in a general sense. I know Tom has kept him advised in all the deals that have been done. But he’s not like some clients I’ve had where they’re calling all the time and asking, ‘What’s going on? When are we getting this done?’
“What he’s said is really the way he’s acted with us. He hasn’t shown any anxiety about it. He knows that it might not get done. And if it doesn’t, he’ll just play on the contract. But he’s not pushing us at all about it.”
If anyone is pushing it, it should be the Browns. Waiting on a Mayfield extension just drives up the price.
Most of the recent quarterback extensions have been for four years. Mills agrees that is the “preferred” length of deal, though it hasn’t been discussed yet with the Browns. Signing Mayfield now enables the Browns to pro-rate Mayfield’s signing bonus – which should exceed $30 million – over six years rather than five. That helps to reduce the yearly salary cap numbers over the length of the deal.
Aside from Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who signed an unusual and complicated deal for a reported $450 million over 10 years, the most recent quarterback mega-contracts came in for a yearly average of $39 million for Houston’s DeShaun Watson and $40 million for Dallas’ Dak Prescott.
Mills agreed that the Browns might want to beat Buffalo and Baltimore to the punch of signing their franchise quarterbacks, Allen and Jackson, because each succeeding contract only gets bigger.
And the fact the Browns signed defensive end Myles Garrett to a franchise-record $125 million extension for five years last summer indicated to Mills the Browns want to be pro-active.
“I would think that shows their – oh, I guess -- tendency to get things done with key people,” Mills said. “Let’s put it this way, we don’t have any indication that they don’t want to do something. It’s just a question of when they get around to it.”
That is, if the Browns have concluded that Mayfield is “their guy.”
“We get the feeling that he’s their guy, yeah,” Mills said. “Every indication we have is that Baker’s the man for the future.”