Could the Carolina Panthers trade for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft?
Now that the Carolina Panthers have their franchise left tackle after selecting Ikem Ekwonu at No. 6 overall, attention has quickly turned to what the organization plans to do in pursuit of finding an upgrade on Sam Darnold.
Many quarterback prospects remain available within a less-than-stellar class after just Kenny Pickett was taken in the first round. But the Panthers don’t possess any Day 2 capital following trades for Darnold and C.J. Henderson – meaning those in power need to make a bold move up the pecking order if they feel a young signal-caller is worth the risk.
This will obviously not be cheap. And general manager Scott Fitterer was keen to state that he wasn’t too keen on giving up future picks during his pre-draft presser.
It’s a fluid situation. One that means there is interest from the team’s fanbase despite Carolina not having a second or third-round selection to speak of.
However, there is one veteran name that continues to be linked with a potential trade.
Baker Mayfield is surplus to requirements on the Cleveland Browns after they landed Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans. One suspects the franchise will want to remove this problem before training camp rolls around.
Carolina Panthers remain in conversations about a Baker Mayfield trade
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, discussions have continued between the Panthers and Browns regarding Mayfield. The reporter added that a Day 3 selection is all it would likely take to secure the former No. 1 overall selection, but Cleveland taking on part of his guaranteed $18.85 million in 2022 remains a stumbling block.
Carolina has the cap space to take it all on. Even if they are still paying Darnold the exact same amount after triggering his fifth-year option soon after his arrival from the New York Jets.
Fitterer told fans “not to watch Ozark” on Sportsradio FNZ-Charlotte’s breakfast show this morning. An indicator that the respected front office figure has another rabbit up his sleeve.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk published an opinion piece earlier on Friday outlining that finances won’t play that much of a factor when it’s all said and done. He also said that the Panthers should act quickly to avoid missing out entirely.
"“So once a team like the Falcons or Saints or Seahawks or Lions (still trying) emerge from tonight without a quarterback, the Panthers may have some competition for his contract. That’s why it needs to be done now. Even if Carolina has to pay the full amount of his salary, what’s $18.8 million for a starting quarterback? Again, Mayfield is proven. The rookies aren’t. So get cracking, Carolina. He who hesitates may lose the chance to snag the best available veteran quarterback option.”"
Even though there was reported “mutual disinterest” between both sides earlier this offseason, Mayfield doesn’t have that many options where he could come in and start right away. One of them is Carolina, which possesses plenty of weapons and now have themselves an offensive line that should be much improved.
It will be incredibly interesting to see what the Panthers end up doing at the most important position on the field. If they feel like the price is too steep to trade up and land a college prospect, then Mayfield will be the play at a fraction of the cost.
If it doesn’t work out, then Carolina should be in a strong position to select a quarterback from what’s expected to be a much stronger draft class in 2023.