That didn’t take too long. About five weeks after being acquired from the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield will be the Carolina Panthers’ Week 1 starting quarterback.
NFL insiders Jeff Howe and Joseph Person of The Athletic were the first to report the news Wednesday evening, claiming that Mayfield has beat out incumbent starter Sam Darnold for the QB1 job.
Mayfield, 27, made his Panthers peseason debut against the Washington Commanders this past weekend, completing 4-of-7 passes for 45 yards. Apparently, that was enough for Matt Rhule and Co. to make this decision ahead of Carolina’s second exhibition outing against the New England Patriots Friday evening.
Baker Mayfield: From purgatory in Cleveland to Carolina’s starting QB
Mayfield was traded by Cleveland months after it made the shocking trade for embattled super star quarterback Deshaun Watson. The former No. 1 pick had requested to be dealt as trade talks between Cleveland and Houston heated up. He remained away from offseason activities.
This came after a down 2021 season for both Mayield and the Browns one year after he led the oganization to a rare playoff appearance while playing at a high level.
- Baker Mayfield stats (2020): 63% completion, 3,563 yards, 26 TD, 8 INT, 95.9 QB rating
For Mayfield, this is an opportunity to jumpstart his career as the former Oklahoma star plans for free agency next March. He’s also excited to be on a team that actually wants him.
As for Sam Darnold, he’s out of a starting job after just one season with Carolina. The former New York Jets’ top-three pick has bombed out big time. He threw just nine touchdowns against 13 interceptions in his first season with the Panthers.
The expectation is that Carolina could look to trade Darnold. However, his poor showing through four seasons and an $18.86 million cap hit for the 2022 campaign makes that a near impossibility.