When you draft a quarterback number one, the expectation is that he will lead your franchise for the next dozen years and, if not lead you to a few Super Bowls, at least be an upper-echelon signal caller.
By those standards, the Browns have an issue. Because Baker Mayfield isn't that guy.
Not that he's JaMarcus Russell or anything. To be fair, he is serviceable. But he's far from elite.
That was shown again in the Browns' most recent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where they lost to their AFC North rivals 15-10, dropping to last place in the division at 4-4.
Once again, Mayfield was OK. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 225 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Too often his passes aren't accurate enough for his receivers to run through the ball and have the opportunities to get yards after catch. Coming out of Oklahoma, he was thought to be a precision passer. That simply hasn't manifested itself in the NFL.
It has to be mentioned that he is playing with an injured left shoulder. But there is a large enough sample size at this point to determine who he is. Right now, he's a better pitchman than a passer.
To be fair, in the fourth quarter of this loss to the Steelers, Mayfield didn't get much help, as there were drops, a key fumble by the usually reliable Jarvis Landry, and inexcusable penalties. Certain quarterbacks can overcome their teammates; Mayfield isn't one of them.
But looking at the big picture, while the blue-collar Landry has always been a productive player, the flamboyant Odell Beckham Jr. is now basically a non-factor. This week Odell had a lone catch for six yards.
Generally, Mayfield has a strong running game to lean on, but with the Browns generating only 96 yards on the ground, the offense produced just 10 points.
Go back to the 2018 draft, when Mayfield was chosen by the Browns. He was one of five quarterbacks selected in the first round alongside Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson. From that class, Mayfield is no better than the third-best player.
The Browns have a decision to make. Do you commit to a highly lucrative second contract with Mayfield? The Rams faced this dilemma. They signed 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff to a lucrative extension, then decided to cut bait with him two years later. Goff actually led the Rams to a Super Bowl.
There is a belief that in the NFL there are two types of teams: Those who have their franchise QB and those who are looking for one.The Browns are the latter.