Josh Allen has just been paid $258 million over six years meaning it’s time to see how that impacts the Browns on how much it might cost them to extend Baker Mayfield.
I’m going to write in the context of them doing it this offseason as it will be easier. I’m going to write two scenarios here and then a conclusion, one if they do a four-year deal and one if they do a six-year deal. These are new years we are discussing so if Baker added a four-year deal to his two existing ones that would be six years in total.
How Many Years?
If we look at the top group of quarterbacks on the market before we get to the likes of Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger on one-year deals we can see some patterns:
10 – Patrick Mahomes
6 – Josh Allen
5 – Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford
4 – Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill
2 – Kirk Cousins (was to get out of a bad cap situation so can be ignored)
Four years certainly seems the favorite here based on what other players have signed but with Josh Allen signing a six-year deal the team can easily use this structure and ask Baker to follow the same trend which really gives us the options of four, five, or six years for an extension.
The Browns have shown signs of being open to fewer years in negotiations, the four highest-paid defensive linemen (as APY as a % of cap) when Garrett signed his deal were Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt & Von Miller. All of these players got six-year deals and Myles got five. Then we saw the Nick Chubb deal, the most recent running back deals had been four years for Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, and Aaron Jones whereas Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara got five. They then went to give Chubb three years, less than anyone else in the positional market. These sort of things matter because Baker’s agent will be using this in his negotiation to say you went less on these players based on their positional market, we want the lower end of the market too, leading me to believe his side will be pushing hard for a four-year deal.
In Over The Cap’s, Jason Fitzgerald’s piece looking at the Josh Allen contract he says: “Baker Mayfield on the horizon and they will probably both be faced with the option of a six-year deal or maybe taking a little less and doing a four-year deal.” If the Browns are willing to negotiate on years then they can save themselves one or two million over each year of the contract. Two million per year for a player isn’t going to be the difference between winning a ring or not, if the quarterback is your guy, it is about getting a deal done.
The cash flow of these deals is the most important part because players and agents care about how much money they are getting and what payments are guaranteed. Teams can then decide how they want the salary cap structure to be by using signing bonus over roster bonus, option years, and other techniques, which I breakdown here.
The deals that Baker’s agent will be using in negotiations will be from Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Dad Prescott, and Deshaun Watson. Not saying I want x years but looking at how the Browns offer stacks up against these guys. It matters less about what happens in the first year or so but more in that two to three-year range and how much of that cash is guaranteed. Below is a table on cashflows from Over The Cap’s article on Josh Allen’s deal.
Four Year Deal
If Baker gets a four-year deal then the Browns can likely reduce his average per year down from Josh Allen’s $43 million to somewhere in the $41-42 million range. This is because he will get back to free agency much quicker forcing an early extension and making more money in the long run.
In terms of total guarantees, we will see the first three years of the deal effectively guaranteed for Baker. In terms of guarantees at the time of signing, Prescott got $90 million and Allen got $100 million. This is a number that Baker’s team will try to match. It will certainly come out ahead of Prescott’s.
Baker’s Possible 4 Year Deal
$164-168 million total salary
$126-150 million in total guarantees
$90-100 million guaranteed at signing
$130 million+ cash through Year 3
Six Year Deal
If Baker gets a six-year deal then the Browns likely need to beat Josh Allen’s average per year meaning it would need to be $44 million per year. Goff beat Wentz by $1.5 million per year and Bosa beat Garrett by $2 million per year so only increases the value by $1 million a year would be a win for the front office.
The guarantees would then need to beat Josh Allen in total and at the time of signing plus a slight improvement on the cash flow once year three hits.
The Browns will need to look to the Mahomes and Allen deals to have vesting guarantees in these deals as Mahomes get the following year guaranteed each year and Allen has some mechanisms too.
Baker’s Possible 6 Year Deal
$264-270 million total salary
$152.5-160 million in total guarantees
$102.5-105 million guaranteed at signing
$140-142.5 million cash through Year 3
Regardless of which length of the deal the Browns go for it will likely be heavily backloaded in the spirit of their other deals to keep the early year’s salary caps as low as possible. Using techniques like a double option deal which they put into Garrett’s deal and hadn’t been seen since Joe Flacco signed his extension.
The front office just needs to decide if they want to get the deal done and then put the numbers onto it. It seems like Lamar Jackson’s camp is closer to completing a deal than Baker’s based on media reports. Within the next week, we might see Lamar complete his, likely using the framework from Allen’s. If he takes the six-year outline above then there is a good chance we have to increase these numbers again for Baker.
Personally, I’m of the mindset we are better waiting for one more year, no quarterback is in line for a monster contract next offseason so there is no danger ahead. We have seen mixed results and a lack of consistency from Baker, while that isn’t all his fault we need him to go toe to toe with Mahomes year in year out to compete for rings which are going to be incredibly difficult for any quarterback. If Baker blows the doors off then we can extend him at whatever it takes, an extra $3m a year isn’t very much in the grand scheme of it. Having Anthony Walker on your roster isn’t the difference between a ring or not. Knowing that Baker is 100% the guy is priceless as an above-average but not elite QB like Stafford, Carr, or Dalton puts a ceiling on your ambition. For the sake of maybe $3m, let us make sure we know before committing to him until 2025.