The Cleveland Browns finally got over the hump and made the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2002. They even got an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round.
Unfortunately, the next stop was a road game against the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Kansas City Chiefs won the game 22-17, despite losing star quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the third quarter.
That means the next stop for Cleveland is the offseason, but Baker Mayfield wants to give fans hope for next year. Following the game, the third-year quarterback talked about this season as the beginning, not the end:
"We're setting a new standard here," Mayfield said in the postgame press conference. "We're going to be back. We've come a long way since I got here, but we're not done yet. That's the best part."
And you know what? Mayfield is right. This season wasn't a fluke. It was the next step in what has been a long building process. This team is set up for long-term success under Mayfield, Myles Garrett and first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Areas of weakness in 2020 should improve next season. The team should get both of its second-round picks in the last two drafts back, and the return of Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit should bolster a struggling secondary.
Linebacker is still a major concern, but there are plenty of draft prospects worth considering. Would a Micah Parsons out of Penn State fall to the No. 26 pick? Probably not, but there are other options available on Day 1 or 2. Some of those options include:
The point here is that Cleveland is ready to compete in the AFC North. And with a young core and a slew of potential returns, it shouldn't be a surprise if they continue to improve. Mayfield is onto something here.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.