Could Week 1 clash prevent Baker Mayfield trade to the Panthers?
By Dean Jones
Could the Carolina Panthers taking on the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 prevent the team from trading for quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2022?
Drafting Matt Corral and keeping Sam Darnold on the books has done nothing to quash the speculation linking the Carolina Panthers with another veteran trade. Hopes are high that the Ole Miss product can emerge as the team’s starter over time, but much will depend on just how fast he picks things up and develops certain problem areas of his game.
Darnold has not exactly inspired much confidence in his ability to lead the franchise long-term. A series of dismal performances following his trade from the New York Jets left the Panthers sitting with egg on their face, but it appears they are stuck with the USC product for one more season after triggering his fifth-year option with a fully guaranteed $18.85 million.
Carolina has been shrewd enough to keep plenty of salary-cap space available heading into the offseason workout period. If the coaching staff does not like what it sees from Darnold and Corral isn’t ready, then expect the Panthers to take another plunge for a short-term fix to an ongoing complication since Matt Rhule took over as head coach.
Carolina Panthers could go back for Baker Mayfield later this offseason
According to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, the Panthers have not closed the door entirely on trading for Baker Mayfield, although they are prepared to wait and see how things develop in the coming weeks.
Discussions took place between Carolina and the Cleveland Browns during the draft once Ikem Ekwonu became their No. 6 overall selection. However, this came to an abrupt halt over a reported disagreement about just how much of Mayfield’s $18.85 million salary his current employers would take on as part of the deal.
This could make for an awkward situation if Mayfield is forced to return to Cleveland after the team cast him aside by securing the services of Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans. The former Oklahoma standout has also emotionally detached himself from the organization to further complicate matters.
Realistic starting opportunities are almost non-existent for Mayfield right now. Teams have traded, signed, or drafted their signal-callers of choice, so the player might be forced to wait it out for a potential training camp injury when it’s all said and done.
There is little doubt that Mayfield is an upgrade on Darnold. But could the Week 1 clash between the Panthers and Browns at Bank of America Stadium prove to be yet another stumbling block if talks resumed?
Imagine the hype that would come from Mayfield’s first game against his old team right out of the gate. The contest could also see the Panthers face a signal caller they pursued unsuccessfully for more than a year to further sweeten the pot.
Whether this scenario would be enough to make the Browns think twice is unlikely.
The market for Mayfield has not been robust by any stretch of the imagination. So they are probably content to deal him to whoever comes along to get this problem off their hands.
The Panthers will take their time to assess Darnold and determine how long it’s going to take for Corral. There is an urgency to be better no matter what it takes in 2022, so if a motivated Mayfield could be acquired on the cheap, the benefits are evident for all to see.