5 Panthers players entering the last chance saloon in 2022 camp
By Dean Jones
Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB
Acquiring Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns is something the Carolina Panthers have been looking to do for a while. There were some financial obstacles to overcome, but those in power finally struck a deal for the signal-caller last week in their latest roll of the dice at the most important position on the field.
This makes things difficult for Sam Darnold, one suspects. The Panthers are keen to make everyone believe this is an open competition for the No. 1 job, but Joe Person of The Athletic stated that the trade was made with a view to Mayfield starting in Week 1 against his old employers and throughout the campaign.
Darnold has taken the news well, calling Mayfield and arranging a throwing session before they head into training camp. This is the latest positive report surrounding the USC product this offseason, who’s drawn rave reviews for his performance and demeanor shift over early workouts.
The Panthers are still on the hook for $18.85 million fully guaranteed after triggering Darnold’s fifth-year option without a practice under his belt. One of the strangest and most costly moves in franchise history considering how the player performed overall in 2021.
If Darnold cannot impress the coaching staff in camp, then there’s just no telling what his short and long-term aspirations might look like. He now has two new quarterbacks fighting for his spot in Mayfield and Matt Corral, so the gauntlet has been laid down in no uncertain terms.
Even if Darnold does perform well, it might not be enough. But it could sway another team to come calling depending on how they perceive their options under center.