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Browns GM Andrew Berry sets high standard for Baker Mayfield’s final five games

The Cleveland Browns believe Baker Mayfield will play his best football over the season's final five games, per GM Andrew Berry.

Baker Mayfield’s last five games could go a long way in determining where he spends his next five years. The Cleveland Browns quarterback is two-thirds of the way through the most challenging season of his career — and that adversity has come at the moment that he can afford it the least. But Browns general manager Andrew Berry remains optimistic on the conclusion of Mayfield’s 2021 campaign.

Browns GM expects Baker Mayfield ‘to play his best’

Mayfield entered the season with a chance of becoming one of the highest-paid players in NFL history. But a series of significant injuries and some really poor play have crushed those hopes for now. Yet, the Browns aren’t giving up on the former No. 1 pick. In fact, Berry said Wednesday that the best is yet to come.

“We expect him to play his best football down the stretch here after the bye,” Berry told reporters Wednesday, according to WKYC.

Was that a prediction or a challenge? Perhaps both.

“I think we all know Baker’s incredibly physically tough,” Berry added. “I think he’s told you guys at moments in the year where he’s been frustrated with his own performance. That being said, he has had stretches this year where he has played well for us.

“The reality of it is that he’s worked through injuries, no different from other players on our roster. I know he expects of himself and we expect of him, whenever he’s out on the field, to perform at a capable level and winning level.”

Mayfield is playing through a partially torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and has also missed a game with a knee injury. Those ailments have contributed to Mayfield throwing more interceptions and fewer touchdowns than last year while putting together the least efficient season of his career, according to QBR (37.9).

Baker Mayfield contract extension update

Berry, an Ivy League-educated team executive, is smart enough to factor in all of Mayfield’s challenges when deciding whether to extend him after this season — and at what price point.

Given the Browns QB’s struggles this year, Berry was asked how much weight to give Mayfield’s 2021 performance compared to his entire body of work.

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“It’s probably more art than science,” Berry said. “I wish I could give you a straightforward answer. It is a little bit more feel and about looking at things without emotion and being fair to your team.”

The Browns have time on their side. Mayfield is under contract through 2022 (he’ll make $18.6 million guaranteed next year under the fifth-year option), and Cleveland could use the franchise tag after that. According to Spotrac, Mayfield’s market value is $29.2 million annually, which would make him the NFL’s 12th-highest-paid quarterback.

Adam Beasley is the National NFL Analyst and Insider for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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