Originally Published: July 24, 2018 11:06 p.m.
CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield’s first win was beating the clock.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft signed his rookie contract on Tuesday with the Cleveland Browns, who believe the quarterback from Oklahoma can lead them back to respectability and more.
Mayfield finalized his four-year, $32 million deal a day before Cleveland’s players are scheduled to report to training camp and avoided being a holdout. Mayfield’s contract includes a $22 million signing bonus.
Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward, selected with the No. 4 overall pick, remains unsigned. But the Browns are hopeful they can also get the former Ohio State star under contract before their first practice on Thursday.
One of college football’s most popular and polarizing players, Mayfield is not expected to start in his first season for Cleveland. The Browns acquired former Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor during an offseason trade and coach Hue Jackson has made it clear that the veteran will play until Mayfield is ready.
That doesn’t mean Mayfield won’t try to beat out Taylor.
“I’m always competitive,” he said during rookie camp. “It wouldn’t matter what (Jackson) was saying in regards to the competition. I’m still going to compete and try and win that job.”
Mayfield, who was a two-time walk-on in college, won the Heisman Trophy last season after he passed for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns. Despite some questions about his character after an off-field incident and some well-publicized antics during games, the Browns chose him over several other top-tier college QBs in April’s draft.
Mayfield impressed coaches and teammates with his attitude and work ethic during spring workouts, but he still has a ways to go before he can unseat Taylor, who ended the Bills’ long playoff drought last season.
Cleveland has spent nearly the past two decades searching for its franchise quarterback and hope Mayfield can finally end its quest.
The Browns are coming off a 0-16 season, but there is renewed optimism following an offseason roster overhaul that included the acquisition of Taylor, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
After transferring from Texas Tech, Mayfield started 39 games for the Sooners. He finished his career with 14,607 yards passing and 131 touchdowns. He also ended ranked second in FBS history in passing efficiency rating (175.4), third in yards per attempt (9.7) and tied for fourth in touchdown passes.