Baker Mayfield's star is rising, perhaps not high enough to pull even with UFOs, but enough to sell the Browns on a fifth-year option.
Before he hits that fifth year, Mayfield must first complete his fourth NFL season. After leading the Browns to 11 regular-season wins and the team's first postseason triumph since the 1994 season, Mayfield has learned that victories matter more than anything else for his future.
"If we win games, everything will happen how it should," Mayfield told reporters Monday. "That's my mentality and I truly do believe that."
Mayfield's Browns certainly did so in 2020, building up the legitimacy of a franchise that had only flirted with the thought before ultimately disappointing its fanbase prior to Mayfield's third campaign. His efforts, while not statistically incredible, were exactly what Cleveland needed to contend, score an upset playoff win and nearly take down the defending-champion Chiefs.
Two other quarterbacks in those same playoffs and also from the 2018 class -- Buffalo's Josh Allen and Baltimore's Lamar Jackson -- seem poised to receive extensions in the near future. Mayfield's road ahead isn't quite as certain, though as he said, if he can duplicate 2020 this fall, he'll likely be discussing a new deal with the Browns a year from now.
In the meantime, the club picking up his fifth-year option last week simply offers both sides security going into 2022.
"I hope the best for them. Whatever happens, happens," Mayfield said of his situation in comparison to Allen and Jackson. "But it really is out of my control at this point. The fifth-year option just happened, so a long-term deal I think is a little bit on the backburner for me. I'm not worried about it. I want to go out and win games, and I think everything happens for a reason. So we'll see what happens."
As for security of intergalactic nature, Mayfield is less certain. He tweeted in March he believed he and his wife, Emily, had spotted a UFO while driving late at night in Texas. Asked about it Monday, the signal-caller recounted his moment in which he thinks he might have received a signal from an otherworldly being.
"I'm a firm believer in UFOs and Sasquatch. It's real. I saw it," Mayfield said. "I'm glad the Navy finally confirmed some more pictures. Now everybody doesn't think I'm as crazy. I believe.
... "We were driving home from dinner. I don't know what day it was, but just driving home and had the music going and it was one of those things. She was looking down at her phone, riding in the passenger seat. Night time, so when you're looking at your phone screen, everything is dark around your phone (but) that light, but it was bright enough to where it caught her attention too. We kind of just looked at each other. Did you just see that? Yeah. Other people in that area confirmed, too."
What Mayfield saw sounds like an appearance of a meteor (or shooting star), which typically streaks across the sky at varying angles and shines a bright light as it is heated in Earth's upper atmosphere. Or maybe it was a UFO. The world may never know, but the Browns are certain they have their quarterback for at least the next two seasons.