Tagged in: Kevin Stefanski

Cleveland Browns exercise Baker Mayfield’s fifth-year option

The Cleveland Browns have exercised the fifth-year option on the contract of quarterback Baker Mayfield, the team stated Friday.

The move extends Mayfield’s contract in Cleveland through 2022, when he’ll make $18.86 million.

The team also exercised the fifth-year option on cornerback Denzel Ward, the No. 4 overall pick three years ago.

“Both of those players have really done a nice job for us over the first three years,” general manager Andrew Berry said Friday. “We view both of those guys as young players who continue to ascend.”

Last campaign, Mayfield — the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL draft — quarterbacked the Browns to their first playoff triumph in 26 years. In that 48-37 victory over the Steelers, Mayfield passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns as the Browns snapped a 17-game losing streak in Pittsburgh during their first playoff appearance since 2002.

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Mayfield concluded last season ranked 10th in the league in QBR, with 26 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions.

From Week 7 to Week 15, he was actually third in QBR, trailing only last season’s MVP (Aaron Rodgers) and the 2019 MVP (Patrick Mahomes).

Coming off a season in which he broke an NFL rookie record with 27 touchdown passes, Mayfield struggled at times in 2019, as the Browns finished a disappointing 6-10. But playing for a fourth head coach in his third season, Mayfield thrived under first-time head coach Kevin Stefanski last year.

“I hope it is significantly better,” Stefanski said this week, when asked about Mayfield improving with another season in his scheme. “He has heard these plays over and over again.

We have streamlined concepts, and we have tried to adjust what we do based on his strengths and our players’ strengths. I would hope he is much more comfortable from that perspective. That is what time allows you to do — time together.”

When he took over, Mayfield became Cleveland’s 30th starting quarterback since the franchise returned to the league in 1999. Mayfield is also eligible for an extension, which the team could engage him on later this offseason.

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Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland Browns reach one-year deal worth up to $10M

Free-agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney has signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, it was revealed Wednesday.

The deal is worth up to $10 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Clowney will have an opportunity to thrive playing opposite fellow former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.

“I’ve been getting double-teamed an awful lot in this league, in my career,” Clowney said during his virtual news conference. “I’m looking forward to playing with somebody dominant on the other side in Myles Garrett who can draw a double-team. Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”

The 28-year-old Clowney visited with the Browns last month, sources told ESPN, but left Cleveland without a deal. General manager Andrew Berry also heavily pursued him last season to pair with Garrett, but the three-time Pro Bowler reportedly rejected Cleveland’s multiyear contract offer and ultimately signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Tennessee Titans.

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“We’re excited to add Jadeveon to our defensive line,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in a statement. “He’s a disruptive force that will help us against the run and the pass. We’ve been able to make some nice additions to our defense throughout free agency and we are looking forward to getting to work, so we can improve our team.”

Clowney struggled in 2020 with Tennessee, ending with 19 tackles and zero sacks in eight matches before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November.

He had surgery in December and is expected to be at full health for the start of the 2021 season.

“I feel great now,” Clowney said. “I’m looking forward to this season to prove to guys that I’m back healthy and I can still dominate in this league.”

Over the past three seasons, Clowney has ranked fifth in the NFL with a pass rush win rate of 25%, according to ESPN Stats & Information. During that span, Garrett ranks third, at 26%.

“We love his relentless style of play,” Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line and will pair nicely with many of the guys we have on the roster already. The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”

Cleveland already bolstered its pass rush in free agency last month, signing Takk McKinley to a one-year deal. McKinley struggled with injuries last season but ranked seventh in pass rush win rate in 2018, one spot behind Clowney and four behind Garrett that season.

The No. 1 overall selection by the Houston Texans in 2014, Clowney can play any position along the defensive front, which makes him valuable to teams wanting scheme versatility. He is a disruptive player as an interior pass-rusher or coming off the edge.

Clowney has 255 tackles (75 for a loss), 86 quarterback hits and 32 sacks in his seven seasons. Over his career, he has dealt with various knee injuries in addition to groin, elbow, back and Lisfranc injuries.

The Browns now have three of the past seven No. 1 overall draft picks on their roster, involving quarterback Baker Mayfield.

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Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. has torn ACL in left knee

Odell Beckham Jr.’s season is officially over.

The Cleveland Browns revealed the star wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Beckham underwent an MRI on Monday morning, which confirmed the tear.

He was injured on the Browns’ second snap Sunday while attempting to chase down a Cincinnati Bengals defender following a Baker Mayfield interception.

“Obviously it’s a big loss,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski stated Monday. “He’s a huge part of what we do. So now we’ll just have to huddle up, and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. “You never replace a player of Odell’s caliber with one player. It’s going to take multiple guys,” Stefanski added. “That’s the challenge we have and I think our guys will be up to the challenge.”

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On Mayfield’s first passing attempt versus the Bengals, he tried to force a throw to Beckham down the sideline.

The ball, however, was underthrown and picked off by Darius Phillips. Beckham turned around to chase the Cincinnati defensive back the other way, but crashed into Phillips and Cleveland fullback Andy Janovich, who also was trying to make the tackle.

After going 0-of-5 in the first quarter, Mayfield bounced back without Beckham to complete a franchise-record 21 consecutive passes and five touchdowns, including a game-winning, 24-yard scoring strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones with 15 seconds left.

Afterward, Mayfield confessed to feeling guilty for the underthrow that led to Beckham’s injury.

“I’m probably going to beat myself up about that one for a long time,” Mayfield said. “He’s a guy who fights for this team, and in doing that, he got hurt. … it sucks.”

Mayfield stated that at halftime Beckham told him to “go be great” in the second half. Mayfield went on to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw three go-ahead touchdown passes in a fourth quarter in Cleveland’s 37-34 victory.

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Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr Fully recovered from January hip, groin surgery

According to Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is now 100% and fully recuperated from offseason surgery.

Beckham underwent the surgery Jan. 21 to address hip and groin injuries that hampered him throughout last campaign.

“He’s free and clear,” Stefanski said. “He’s looking really good.”

Beckham suffered the sports hernia injury early in training camp last year. While playing through it, he compiled the worst statistical season of his career, save his injury-shortened one with the New York Giants in 2017. Beckham concluded with more than 1,000 yards receiving in 2019, but he had only four touchdown grabs.

In May, Beckham posted a video to his YouTube channel in which he talked about how the injury affected him.

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“So pretty much, I was just f—ed up the whole year,” he said. “I really didn’t try and say anything about it. Probably one of the worst surgeries I’ve ever had. Recovery’s going well. Guess I’m really just trying to put my body back together.”

In the video, Beckham went on to predict a big bounce-back performance in 2020.

“I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons,” said Beckham, who this month caught passes from former 

“Odell’s free and clear. He’s 100 percent,” Stefanski said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “He’s looking really good.”

As for Beckham’s close friend and colleague, Jarvis Landry, Stefanski said that while the 5-time Pro Bowl selection is on a different timeline, his recovery is also going well. In February, Landry underwent surgery to repair a hip injury suffered at some point during the 2020 campaign. “Jarvis, to his credit, he’s looking great,” Stefanski said. “Some of the videos I’ve seen of him moving around. So we’ll have a plan for them.”

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Gary Kubiak to take over OC duties for Vikings

Gary Kubiak has reportedly agreed to become the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, substituting Kevin Stefanski after he departed to take over the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. 

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Kubiak will take the role after spending last season as an assistant head coach and offensive adviser on Mike Zimmer’s staff. 

Minnesota has been in the market for a new offensive coordinator since Stefanski was named as the Browns head coach Jan. 13. 

Stefanski took over as the Vikings offensive coordinator on an interim basis midway through the 2018 campaign after John DeFilippo’s firing. He was given the full-time job this season, and his unit ranked ninth in the NFL with 25.4 points per game. 

Kubiak returned to coaching in 2019 after spending the previous two years as a senior personnel adviser with the Denver Broncos. He walked away from being head coach of the Broncos following the 2016 season, citing health concerns.

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The 58-year-old was hospitalized with a complex migrane in October 2016 that caused him to miss Denver’s Week 6 game versus the San Diego Chargers. He had a previous health scare during the 2013 season as head coach of the Houston Texans when he was taken off on a stretcher after collapsing while leaving the field during halftime of a game versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Kubiak went 82-75 in 10 combined seasons as head coach of the Texans (2006-13) and Broncos (2015-16).

He won Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos and made the playoffs twice with the Texans, exiting in the divisional round on both occasions. 

Kubiak’s passing offenses have ranked in the top 10 in net yards per attempt 12 times since his first year as a coordinator in 1995. Eleven times, his scoring offenses cracked the top 10 during that span. A lot of that had to do with how much he was able to get out of the quarterback position.

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