Browns GM expecting "best" of Mayfield after December bye
By TOM WITHERS
CLEVELAND (AP) Browns general manager Andrew Berry feels the bye week will help Baker Mayfield get healthy and maybe even mend Cleveland's broken season.
Mayfield has had a rough 2021 while dealing with an assortment of injuries, including a fracture to the quarterback's left, non-showing shoulder. The physical problems have had an effect on his performances, and raised questions whether he should be playing.
Like coach Kevin Stefanski, Berry firmly believes Mayfield is the Browns' best bet.
"Baker's our quarterback," Berry said Wednesday on a Zoom call. "He's healthy enough to win games for us. He has won games for us in the past couple of weeks. If he's ready to go, he's going to be our starter."
The Browns (6-6), who intercepted Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson four times but lost 16-10 to the AFC North-leading Ravens on Sunday, are recharging during their week off to get ready for a brutal stretch.
Cleveland's postseason chances are precarious, and there's a daunting stretch of games ahead against Baltimore (8-3), Las Vegas (6-5), Green Bay (9-3), Pittsburgh (5-5-1) and Cincinnati (7-4) - all teams in the playoff hunt.
The Browns have struggled to score over the past seven weeks - 17 points or fewer in six of the last seven games. The offense's regression has not helped build a case for the team committing long term to Mayfield, who is eligible for a contract extension.
To this point, the Browns have shown little interest in extending Mayfield beyond the 2022 season. They picked up the guaranteed $18.9 million fifth-year option on his rookie contract in May.
Berry's unwillingness to discuss Mayfield's contact doesn't mean the team won't move forward with him or it has decided to move in another direction. Berry reiterated the 26-year-old's future isn't being decided by just this season.
"With Baker, especially from a long-term perspective, you really try and take a big-picture approach," he said. "Really with any player, it's about body of work really over several years, and also taking into context the environment or particular individual's situation.
"We have seen Baker play a lot of good football here. We have seen Baker play good football this season. I know he's excited and we are excited for the opportunity ahead of us. We expect him to play his best football moving forward over the next five weeks."
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Updated December 1, 2021