Baker Mayfield is set to miss several weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain on Sunday. The injury occurred during the first half of the Browns’ game against the San Francisco 49ers. Fortunately, the quarterback was able to return during the second half. He played the rest of the game while wearing a boot on his left leg.
Baker Mayfield’s injury
If the Cleveland Browns want to be a playoff team next season, they need their franchise quarterback to be as healthy as possible. With Mayfield’s injury, they’ll have to hope his rehab is a success and that he won’t be sidelined for a long time. The injury may be a setback, but it’s not one that will derail the Browns’ season.
After sustaining the injury on Sept. 19, Mayfield said he was confident that he could play. He explained that his arm felt like shit, but that he still believed he would be able to play through the pain. He has been wearing a shoulder harness, and has been receiving treatments from a physiotherapist on a daily basis. He expects to play Thursday.
The Cleveland Browns aren’t placing Mayfield on injured reserve, but are preparing a backup quarterback in case of an extended absence. If Mayfield can’t play this week, PJ Walker will likely start against the Rams.
Case Keenum’s replacement
With Baker Mayfield out for the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, the Browns are turning to veteran quarterback Case Keenum to start the season finale against the Denver Broncos. Mayfield will not play the game, which the team is scheduled to play in Cincinnati on Jan. 9.
While Keenum is not a superstar, he’s a good backup for a team in need of a veteran quarterback. He’s a journeyman quarterback, having led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship game. He’ll offer Baker Mayfield veteran mentorship while also serving as insurance. In 2018, he appeared in nine games and threw three touchdowns and one interception. In 2021, he came off the bench to start twice.
After Mayfield’s injury, the Browns have not talked about a long-term contract extension. However, they did pick up Mayfield’s fifth-year option for 2022, and Mayfield’s future in Cleveland is still unclear. While Mayfield’s performance was impressive in the first three weeks of the season, his injuries have clouded the future.
Impact on compensation for Browns
If you’re a Browns fan, you’re probably wondering how the injury to Baker Mayfield will impact the compensation he’s set to receive this offseason. The quarterback was slated to be paid $11.5MM in 2019 and is still owed another $3.5MM through incentives. The good news is that the Browns’ cap space is likely to increase considerably, as they’ll now have about $50MM available.
However, Mayfield’s injury isn’t likely to impact Mayfield’s salary in 2020. His contract is set to run through 2022, and they could be forced to pay his salary until 2022 if he doesn’t play a single game in 2022. The Browns’ salary for Mayfield’s 2022 contract is set to be $46 million. The Browns could opt to send him to a team that has cap space for his 2022 salary. But if the Browns want to trade Mayfield, they won’t have to pay him more than $3-4 million.
While there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of Mayfield’s compensation, the Browns have been lucky enough to have an abundance of talent. Even without the help of superstar teammates, the Browns have had plenty of talent. They can’t expect Mayfield to do his best without them and that’s not the best argument for cap-altering compensation for a quarterback.