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Panthers general manager: ‘Open competition’ at quarterback

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Former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield speaks to the crowd at Owen Field on April 23 in Norman.cutout
Credit: BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said Tuesday that the starting quarterback position will be an open competition between newly acquired Baker Mayfield and incumbent Sam Darnold.

Fitterer made the comments during an introductory press conference for Mayfield, who the Panthers acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last week.

“This is an open competition. The reason why we added Baker is to make the group better as a whole,” Fitterer said.

For his part, Mayfield said he’s happy for a “fresh start,” though he said taking a $3.5 million pay cut to facilitate the trade “wasn’t easy.”

“There was a little bit of sacrifice on all three fronts, between Cleveland, Carolina, and myself,” Mayfield said. “To me, it’s ready for a fresh start first and foremost. I’m extremely grateful for the four years I had in Cleveland, it’s a great football town.

“… But when it came down to it, it was wanting a fresh start, wanting to be with a coach and a GM that truly wanted me,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said he and Darnold have already chatted.

“Sam reached out, got my number first,” Mayfield said. “Sam just wants to win. That’s just who he is. Our personalities might be different, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the same goal, and that’s to win and help this team out.”

Darnold was selected No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in 2018 — the same year the Browns took Mayfield No. 1.

“I’m really looking forward to being in that room with him and just challenging each other and elevating each other.”

Fitterer said the Panthers and Browns had been discussing a trade since the draft but that Mayfield’s contract situation was the biggest obstacle.

The Browns are paying $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary while the Panthers are picking up $4.85 million, per reports. Mayfield was set to earn $18.85 million this season on his fifth-year option.

The Browns get either a fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2024. Mayfield needs to play 70 percent of the snaps for it to become a fourth-rounder.

Mayfield said he made a deal with Panthers punter Johnny Hekker for the No. 6 jersey.

–Field Level Media