How can Baker Mayfield earn a long-term extension with Panthers?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

How can quarterback Baker Mayfield earn himself a new contract with the Carolina Panthers during the 2022 season? 

Everyone seems to have a different take on how Baker Mayfield will perform for the Carolina Panthers in 2022. His trade from the Cleveland Browns was expected but took a while to get over the line, which was down in no small part to the organization wanting bang for their buck after overpaying Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater in recent years.

As it turned out, Mayfield was acquired for a conditional fifth-round selection in 2024 – which will likely turn into a fourth-rounder – and just $5 million in base salary. The Oklahoma product can earn $3.5 million more through incentives after agreeing to take a pay cut following his pre-trade meeting with head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer.

Mayfield is a polarizing figure who is perhaps unfairly criticized for his production last season considering he was playing with a torn labrum from Week 2 onwards. Once Deshaun Watson was available, the Browns felt this was the right move to make despite a possible league suspension looming regarding sexual misconduct allegations.

This hurt Mayfield, no doubt. He’d given everything to Cleveland and even played a big part in their first playoff victory since 1994 during the 2020 campaign.

The NFL is a what have you done for me lately league. Mayfield found that out to his cost.

Baker Mayfield must take advantage of a fresh start with the Carolina Panthers

Carolina represents a fresh start for the signal-caller on a team with plenty of talent. Mayfield must grasp Ben McAdoo’s system quickly and also get on the same page with D.J. Moore, Robbie Anderson, Christian McCaffrey, and other primary pass-catchers in training camp – but the potential for major improvement cannot be disputed.

Many are viewing this trade as another short-term fix to an ongoing problem. The Panthers drafted Matt Corral at No. 94 overall this year, who will now get a full season learning from the sidelines with a view to assuming command under center in 2023.

But could a situation present itself where Mayfield is given a long-term extension by the Panthers?


Mayfield must return to the form we saw from the Heisman Trophy winner in 2020. Something that could be in the pipeline considering he’s now fully healed and the injury was not on his throwing shoulder.

If he can do this and propel the Panthers to progress or even a postseason appearance, then those in power might think long and hard about the possibility of a new deal.

Much has been made this week about Mayfield’s character away from the gridiron. More stories emerged this week about his immaturity and being viewed as childish by influential figures within the Browns, even though many current and former teammates have publicly stated otherwise.

This is something to keep an eye on, especially if Carolina starts the season poorly. But if Mayfield wants to stand any chance of reinventing himself in new surroundings he must inspire, provide accountability and assume a leadership role right out of the gate.

It will be another positive from the player’s point of view if this can be accomplished. Whether it will be enough for Carolina to allocate a substantial sum of cash to keep Mayfield around is another matter.

The Panthers also have the option of putting the franchise tag on Mayfield should they wish. According to Over the Cap, this is likely to be around $31.4 million – a steep figure whichever way one looks at it.

What comes next is down to Mayfield. And the quarterback should be highly motivated to prove his doubters wrong.

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