What does the Carolina Panthers trading for quarterback Baker Mayfield mean for 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral moving forward?
There was little doubt that the Carolina Panthers were planning something at the quarterback position despite drafting Matt Corral at No. 94 overall. The Ole Miss product is seen as a long-term answer under center rather than an immediate impact player, which left those in power willing to take a risk and get Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns last week.
This completely shifts the landscape where Carolina is concerned. Mayfield is expected to be the starter providing there are no major complications in training camp, which makes for an awkward situation with Sam Darnold and the fully guaranteed $18.85 million he’s owed next season.
Obviously, it’s unlikely Darnold will be on the books. But just how the Panthers can rid themselves of such an underperforming player is the big question.
As for Corral, the arrival of Mayfield might turn out to be a good thing. Although the rookie has some outstanding intangibles, expecting him to come in and immediately save the Panthers given their current predicament is a big ask.
Head coach Matt Rhule is fighting for his future in Carolina. Gambling his job on either Darnold or Corral was a risk the former Baylor man couldn’t make – even though one has far more upside than the other at this stage.
Carolina Panthers will give Matt Corral time after Baker Mayfield trade
Having Mayfield as the No. 1 provides Corral with time to refine his craft under the guidance of quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan and Ben McAdoo. This is not a bad thing whatsoever.
The offensive coordinator was reportedly the man who banged the table hardest to get him on board during the draft. Bringing the player along at his own pace throughout camp and the season could secure long-term rewards if everything goes according to plan.
Corral won’t give up hope of winning the starting job. That’s not in his mentality.
But settling for the primary backup role is not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination.
The Panthers remain high on Corral, with Ryan claiming he could potentially become a franchise cornerstone during their pre-draft evaluations. There is some work to do in terms of decision-making and processing information, but the release, elusiveness, and arm strength are right where they need to be for now.
What’s absolutely essential for Corral is ignoring everything else and focusing on getting better each day. There will be more media attention on camp than ever before thanks to Mayfield’s presence in Spartanburg, which could be a distraction if the first-year-pro isn’t ready for it.
Corral might not have much NFL experience, but he started long enough in college to know full well what’s ahead. But he’ll need to demonstrate enough progression in practice to remain the team’s option moving forward.
Worrying about how Mayfield might complicate matters won’t do him any good. And in all honesty, Corral should have been expecting this sooner rather than later given all the speculation before and after he heard his name called.
Mayfield might be the man right now. But the keys to the kingdom could be coming Corral’s way with the right development and emerging gradually into a position of power.
After that, everything should fall into place.