The bill comes due. Always. It's as true in the NFL as anywhere else in life. And for three teams, a whopper of a decision looms on the horizon: extending the young quarterbacks from the Class of 2018.
Given that the Ravens' Lamar Jackson has already led Baltimore to the playoffs three times and won the league's Most Valuable Player award, it's a no-brainer that he will receive a megadeal. And sure enough, he and the Ravens have begun negotiations. After topping 4,500 passing yards and leading the Bills to a 13-win regular season and a berth in the AFC Championship Game, Buffalo's Josh Allen is also cruising toward a massive extension.
The situation is less clear with the first quarterback taken in the 2018 draft. Baker Mayfield rebounded from a shaky second season to throw for 3,563 yards in 2020 while leading the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff berth since 2002 and first postseason victory since 1994.
That success has given Cleveland's long-suffering fanbase a level of optimism regarding the future that hasn't existed on the shores of Lake Erie since the Browns rejoined the league in 1999. It has also potentially set up Mayfield for a bonanza.
But there's no huge rush to re-up the 26-year-old. The Browns would be wise not to let enthusiasm and optimism get the best of them. The smart play with Mayfield is to be patient—let him show that his career will be less 2019 and more 2020.
As a matter of fact, it's the only play.