Playoff hopes should determine Mayfield’s surgery timing

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The Cleveland Browns are simultaneously still in the playoff hunt and in the bottom third of the AFC. Fans of the Browns are simultaneously looking at both “playoff chances” and “draft standings” at the same time.

As shared after the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football, at 6-6 Cleveland is mediocre.

With that mediocracy comes some interesting decisions for the team especially with Baker Mayfield. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has stated that he has no plans for a quarterback change during the bye week, nor should he, but a chance could be coming anyway.

The Browns schedule sets up as a very difficult one for their last five games of the year. All five teams have a .500 record, or better, and sit ahead of Cleveland or, in the case of Green Bay, would if they were in the AFC. All five teams are in the playoff hunt with the Week 17 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers perhaps the easiest.

That is a telling statement given that the Steelers beat the Browns earlier this season. The Cincinnati Bengals in Week 18 will also be interesting after Cleveland dominated them earlier this year. The Bengals have seemed to bounce back since then, however, with wins over Las Vegas and Pittsburgh.

That schedule brings us back to Mayfield. It is known that the quarterback will require surgery in the offseason. Initial reports are that the rehab from that surgery could take between four and six months. If the Browns season ends at the beginning of January, that timeline places Mayfield’s return to the field between May and July.

With offseason activities starting in April of 2022, Mayfield and the team may want to move up his process.

If the Browns lose to Baltimore in Week 15, the team would drop below .500 and, likely, be all but eliminated from playoff contention. Even if the decision isn’t made until after the Week 16 matchup with the Raiders, Mayfield could still have his surgery a month earlier than the end of the season.

For right now, Mayfield and Cleveland are still focused on the 2021 season. If the playoffs become out of reach, both must turn their attention to the 2022 season and get the quarterback’s surgery scheduled quickly.