How high could Carolina Panthers’ ceiling become with Baker Mayfield?

(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

Speculation remains about a potential trade for Baker Mayfield, which might increase the chances of real progress for the Carolina Panthers in 2022. 

Although nothing much has happened over the last couple of weeks, rumors continue to swirl surrounding the Carolina Panthers and another dive into the quarterback trade market.

Sam Darnold has not done enough to prevent such speculation from continuing after a disastrous campaign under center in 2021. The selection of Matt Corral at No. 94 overall was done with the long-term in mind unless the former Ole Miss standout surprises everyone in training camp.

This leaves the Panthers in a precarious situation at the most important position on the field. An ongoing stain on the franchise since Matt Rhule became head coach.

Considering the level of urgency for Carolina to put a meaningful run of results together next season, slotting Darnold as the starter at a time when early momentum will be crucial is a gamble of epic proportions. It would also suggest that those in power restructured way too many contracts earlier this offseason.

What they kicked the can down the road for if another signal-caller isn’t acquired remains to be seen. But with the Panthers projected to be $30 million over the cap in 2023, it only adds to the level of fear about the team’s long-term aspirations.

Carolina Panthers could generate more wins with Baker Mayfield in 2022

Among the likely targets for a while has been Baker Mayfield. Discussions were ongoing before the draft and mandatory minicamp, with the next big milestone coming in a few short weeks when the Panthers descend on Spartanburg for training camp.

One suspects that if something’s going to get done, it will be before then. And judging by Mayfield’s comments recently, bridges have been burned beyond repair between the former No. 1 overall selection and the Cleveland Browns.

This is a sentiment shared by Doug Kyed from Pro Football Focus, who stated that the Panthers should get Mayfield to the franchise before the 2022 season, adding that their ceiling would be much higher with the Oklahoma product at a pivotal stage in Rhule’s tenure.

"“It’s unclear what the Panthers would do with Sam Darnold if they acquire Mayfield, but trading for the Browns’ discontent quarterback would give Carolina a much higher ceiling this season. Mayfield struggled through injuries in 2021 but put together an 87.5 overall offensive grade through his first three NFL seasons. He deserves a starting role somewhere, and Carolina, Cleveland and the Seattle Seahawks represent his best options.”"

Mayfield is an upgrade on Darnold. That is not up for discussion.

What the Panthers have to decide is by how much and is it a price they are willing to pay.

Carolina’s current under/over for the season is 5.5 according to the latest odds from WynnBET. If Mayfield ended up with the team in good time to hit the ground running, this would increase to around 7.5-8.5 wins providing there are no complications regarding a shoulder problem that required surgery this offseason.

If the Panthers got to eight wins, that might be enough for a wildcard berth. The NFC is not particularly strong or deep, so achieving this objective could be the catalyst behind Rhule getting another year.

For that reason alone, it’s worth it from the head coach’s standpoint. But he might not get the final say when push comes to shove.

The sooner this situation is resolved, the better it will be for everybody.

It’s that simple, really.

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