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Carolina Panthers officially name Baker Mayfield as starting quarterback

Andrew Buller-Russ

We may have already known this announcement would be coming, as the news may have leaked a few days early, but now it’s official. The Carolina Panthers have named Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback for the 2022 season, according to Ian Rapoport.

This means fans will be treated to a show in Week 1 when the Cleveland Browns travel to Carolina, where Mayfield will be starting against the team that selected him No. 1 overall in 2018. Awkward. Making matters worse, now the QB the Browns traded for to replace Mayfield won’t even be available, as Deshaun Watson‘s set to serve an 11-game suspension.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said there were three specific factors the team had their eye on in the QB competition, but Mayfield emerged from the pack.

“When we started the process we said we were looking at three things. Number one, mastery of the offense; number two, situational football excellence; and number three, moving the ball and getting guys involved.

Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.”

Carolina Panthers head coach matt Rhule on QB decision

While Mayfield being named the starter is an important development, what does it mean for the other quarterbacks on the roster?

Related: Projecting the winner of the three starting QB competitions this NFL preseason

Baker Mayfield’s the starter but what about Sam Darnold?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Mayfield had been competing with the Panthers’ starter from 2021, but now Sam Darnold will head back to the bench to be the team’s top backup. There’s always the possibility of Darnold being traded, but that appears more unlikely after Matt Corral’s foot injury. PJ Walker didn’t appear ready to be the QB2 either, so Darnold looks like a strong bet to remain in Carolina.

For the Panthers, they get to roll with Mayfield, hope he can do what Darnold couldn’t, and compete for the playoffs. In a worst-case scenario situation, they can always turn to Darnold to see if he can lead a more inspiring performance.

Career statsBaker MayfieldSam Darnold
QB record29-30 (49.1%)17-32 (34.6%)
Completion %61.6%59.8%
Passing yards14,12510,624
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

It may not be the outcome Darnold wished for, but he knows he’s just a snap away from being thrust into a starting role once again. For now he’ll have to settle on being the best teammate he can be, helping Mayfield find success in the offense he once held the keys to.