Grading the Carolina Panthers trade for Baker Mayfield

(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

How did the Baker Mayfield trade deal grade out after the Carolina Panthers finally got their man after a long pursuit this offseason? 

It’s been the talk of the town since the trade was confirmed. The Carolina Panthers finally got themselves what will hopefully be an upgrade at the quarterback position by acquiring Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns after months of negotiations and some stubbornness thrown in for good measure.

The Panthers stuck to their guns regarding financial factors. They knew the Browns were looking to get rid of Mayfield after acquiring Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans and with very little interest from elsewhere, those in power took advantage of the supply and demand situation.

Cleveland eventually agreed to stump up around $10 million of Mayfield’s salary in 2022. Carolina is paying $5 million and the signal-caller converted $3.5 million of his guarantees into incentives to get the trade over the line.

This gives Mayfield the chance to instantly start again after being cast aside in a merciless fashion. The NFL is a cutthroat business and the Oklahoma product playing last season with a torn labrum obviously meant nothing to the primary decision-makers in Cleveland when Watson became available despite the seedy sexual misconduct allegations surrounding the player.

Although the Panthers are keen to state that there will be a competition in training camp between Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and rookie Matt Corral, it would be a big shock if their new acquisition wasn’t under center in Week 1 against his old employers.

In truth, the Panthers had little alternative other than to make this sort of move. Patience within the fanbase is running thin and even though some are not fully on board with this move, having Darnold manning the plate would be much worse.

Mayfield represents one final roll of the dice for Matt Rhule. If another decision at the most important position blows up in his face, then the ramifications could be severe for the former Baylor man.

This could go either way, in all honesty.

If Mayfield is highly motivated, humbled, and fully healed, then getting back to his 2020 form is not out of the question. But he needs to fully embrace this opportunity with some talented playmakers at his disposal.

However, if things begin poorly and people start pointing fingers, then things could turn sour in a hurry. And if Rhule plans on throwing Mayfield under the bus as he did with Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater, he might want to think twice.

This could be a powder keg waiting to go off. But it might also provide the spark that propels the Panthers in a crucial third season for Rhule in 2022.

Carolina Panthers’ trade grade: B+

Considering the compensation, this could work out pretty well. If it doesn’t, then the Panthers can move on with no financial dead-cap in 2023.

This is a big win for Mayfield too, who was reportedly excited to join the ranks after meeting with Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer. A road to redemption could be in the offing, but picking up Ben McAdoo’s scheme quickly before and during camp is of critical importance.

Fitterer stated that the Panthers will keep shooting their shot until they find the right guy under center. That might be Corral over time, but few would deny Mayfield is the best available option in pursuit of progression next season.

Carolina did the right thing biding their time. A methodical approach that’s been prevalent throughout their recruitment this spring.

Whether it bears fruit when things get serious is another matter. But one thing you should never do is write Mayfield off when his back’s against the wall.

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