There is absolutely no reason for the Carolina Panthers to rush if they want to make a trade for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The time for speculation is almost at an end. With the 2022 NFL Draft now just a few short days away, it won’t be much longer before we find out just what the Carolina Panthers have up their sleeve.
Carolina has the No. 6 overall selection, no second or third-round picks, and many needs to fill. Finding an upgrade on Sam Darnold is something the Panthers have to do at some stage, but the temptation to take one of the stud left tackles that might be on the board is another option that’s generated some significant buzz in recent days.
This would be welcome considering there has been no stable blindside production since Jordan Gross retired. If the Panthers went down this route, it would likely see them begin to explore trade possibilities at the most important position on the field.
One name that keeps coming up is Baker Mayfield, who is surplus to requirements after the Cleveland Browns landed Deshaun Watson for significant draft capital and also had to give the signal-caller $230 million guaranteed to get the deal confirmed.
Mayfield played injured last year – something that’s really hurt him. But this could be a better short-term fix for Matt Rhule in a make-or-break campaign for the head coach next time around.
Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network confirmed reports from the Charlotte Observer and Sheena Quick of Fox Sports Radio last week that the Panthers were not going to make a move for Mayfield before Round No. 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Not exactly surprising if general manager Scott Fitterer wants to keep everyone guessing.
Carolina Panthers are right to bide their time with Baker Mayfield after jumping the gun in 2021
Teams are not queueing around the block for Mayfield. This means the Panthers can take their time, let things play out early in the draft, and perhaps make an offer a little later in the process.
This also represents a great chance for Carolina to extract excellent value for Mayfield, who has a playoff win under his belt and actually performed well with a strong running game behind him in 2020 – something the Panthers could provide with Christian McCaffrey, D’Onta Foreman, and second-year-pro Chuba Hubbard.
Carolina would likely want the Browns to take on some of Mayfield’s $18.85 million guaranteed as they are already paying Darnold the same amount. Although one suspects the Panthers might want to find a willing suitor for the USC product if the organization got their hands on another veteran before training camp.
Keeping all options open is something Fitterer has done well in the lead-up to the draft. Nothing can or has been ruled out as yet, which is exactly how Carolina wants it as tensions rise across the league.
Mayfield is an upgrade on anything Carolina currently has under center. Just how much of one is the big question and there is also the small matter of his leadership capabilities to factor into the equation.
It all adds to the intrigue.
And to say the fanbase is divided about what the final plan should be is a huge understatement.
One thing is absolutely certain, the Panthers cannot whiff on another quarterback move. If they feel Mayfield is worth the risk, then don’t be surprised if things pick up once a fascinating first-round comes to a conclusion.