Browns believe in Baker Mayfield and expect him to take another step in 2021

A handful of teams have their franchise quarterback and know it. Some, like the Browns, have seen enough to think they do and plan to build around the quarterback they have.

Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock, while praising Derek Carr, didn’t rule out an upgrade if an upgrade (Russell Wilson?) becomes a possibility. Jets General Manager Joe Douglas admitted he will listen if anyone calls about Sam Darnold.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the Browns have no doubt who will start for them in 2021. Barring injury, Baker Mayfield will spend a fourth season under center for the Browns.

“The quarterback position is in my mind the most important position in professional sports,’’ Berry said Wednesday, via Mary Kay Cabot of “And until you have a baseline of winning-level quarterback play, it’s really difficult to win and make progress in the NFL, and oftentimes if that position isn’t productive or isn’t solidified, it can feel a lot like operating in neutral.

“That’s something that’s certainly not lost on us, and it’s definitely not lost on us as an organization.’’

The Browns, though, have a decision — or decisions — to make regarding Mayfield. They have until May 3 to decide whether to pick up Mayfield’s fifth-round option.

It would seem a good bet the Browns exercise it, but Berry wasn’t saying one way or the other.

“We’ve been pretty consistent with our messaging around Baker that we think he had a really strong season for us,’’ Berry said. “We like the maturation and the growth both on and off the field, and we’re looking forward to him continuing to take steps this second year of the offense.”

The biggest decision the Browns face is whether to give Mayfield an extension. The Eagles did with Carson Wentz and the Rams did with Jared Goff after three season, and neither quarterback remains on the roster of the team that drafted him. The Bucs didn’t with Jameis Winston and the Titans didn’t with Marcus Mariota, and neither player remains with the team that drafted him.

The Texans did with Deshaun Watson last Sept. 5, and Watson now seeks a trade from Houston.

The Chiefs’ commitment to Patrick Mahomes has worked out well.

Berry, who worked for the Eagles in 2019, said it was a stretch to call Wentz a cautionary tale when it comes to quarterback extensions.

Mayfield, 25, can make the debate moot by continuing to improve. He went 11-5 as the team’s starter last season and won a playoff game, while throwing for 3,563 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

He will not have to learn a new playbook or adjust to a new playcaller this season, which should help his development.

“Like all of our players, we want to see him take strides and show growth as we go into year two within our offensive and defensive systems,’’ Berry said. “Baker is the first quarterback in — you guys probably know the years more than I do — that’s led this team to the playoffs and a playoff victory.

“He’s endured an enormous amount of adversity in his young career just quite honestly with the changes that he’s gone through with the coaching staffs, front offices, offensive systems, and he’s risen above it all. And so I think we all saw him grow from week to week to week last year, and we expect him to continue that progress and have a fantastic 2021 season for us.’’

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