The Cleveland Browns entered this season uncertain about their future with Baker Mayfield, and several questions still remain, as the evaluation process has been hindered by an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
But former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann doesn't believe that the Browns need to worry about Mayfield's long-term viability or potential at the moment. They still have next season to determine whether he's truly right for the job.
"The first thing you have to do is, you have to consider what the alternative is without Baker Mayfield," Theismann told the Reiter Than You show on Friday. "And let's just assume it's not going to be Keenum taking over the job going forward, because he's not the youngest guy in the world. If we don't have Baker, where do we go? And there aren't a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL.
"We have 32 teams, I'd say 10 give you a chance to get you where you want to go. That leaves 22 other positions where people are proving themselves... There's no hurry to [make conclusions about Mayfield]. Let him get healthy, let's see where this team goes, what he looks like a year from now... I'd be in no hurry to try and figure out what I want to do with Mayfield, at this point."
Mayfield's fourth year in the league has been unpleasant. He didn't play in the Browns' 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday due to a torn labrum initially suffered in Week 2. Prior to the game, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that Mayfield also fractured his humerus, which is preventing his rotator cuff from firing.
According to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Mayfield is expected to require surgery to repair the torn labrum, but the team hopes that he can play through pain and wait for an offseason procedure. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters on Friday that they'll continue to listen to their medical staff, and when Mayfield is ready, "he's ready."
Case Keenum was serviceable against the Broncos. The veteran journeyman completed 21 of 33 passes for 199 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers, and his short-throw attack worked effectively. Mayfield had started 51 straight games for the Browns, dating back to Week 3 of his rookie season in 2018.
Cleveland (4-3) will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) in a Week 8 matchup on Sunday, Oct. 31. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Browns have a 55-percent chance to reach the playoffs and an 13-percent chance to win the AFC North.
The entire NFL conversation between Theismann and Reiter can be accessed in the audio player above.