Is Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer right about the current quarterback situation ahead of a pivotal 2022 season?
After what seemed like an age, the Carolina Panthers finally agreed to bring Baker Mayfield on board for a potential 2024 fourth-round selection and $5 million guaranteed. This was the latest roll of the dice from an organization that is paying the price for some rash moves since releasing Cam Newton soon after Matt Rhule’s arrival as head coach.
The Panthers made no secret of their desire to secure an upgrade on Sam Darnold after he flattered to deceive once again in a different environment. Mayfield is coming into the franchise with impressive credentials, although a poor 2021 campaign leaves any wondering whether or not the signal-caller has already peaked in terms of performance.
Although it would be a major shock if Mayfield wasn’t the starter against his old team in Week 1, Carolina is keen to state that there will be a genuine quarterback competition in camp between the Oklahoma product, Darnold, third-round pick Matt Corral, and P.J. Walker.
This might not be the greatest sign of confidence in Mayfield. But it could also light a spark under every candidate throughout what’s sure to be a testing few weeks in Spartanburg.
Scott Fitterer likes where the Carolina Panthers stand at QB
The topic was brought up to general manager Scott Fitterer during his media availability this week, which provoked a response not many expected about the current state of affairs within the quarterback room.
"“I think overall this is a very healthy situation for us to be in.”"
Based on Darnold’s production and P.J. Walker being a backup at best, Fitterer could only have been talking about Corral’s potential and Mayfield’s intriguing skill set. The front office figure is keeping the short-term in mind when examining the position currently, which could change depending on how the former Ole Miss standout develops in the weeks and months ahead.
Stability has been sorely lacking. Having a project to develop is encouraging, but it will likely be a wasted pick if Mayfield does enough to earn a long-term extension.
Whether that’s something in Carolina’s train of thought is debatable. Mayfield provides a better chance to win next season and what comes after that has yet to be determined.
Fitterer said he will keep swinging until the Panthers strike it lucky. If they aren’t happy next spring, then expect Carolina to examine an exceptionally deep 2023 draft class heavily.
As for right now, the general manager feels like the position has been stabilized and Fitterer stated he feels good about where Carolina is at heading into a crucial camp in Spartanburg.
"“We need to stabilize the position. That was a priority in the offseason. He (Sam Darnold) played well to start the season last year. He can play football but we need to add another NFL vet, a body to the mix to stabilize that position so we can feel good about this team going into next season.”"
All fans can do is wait and hope for the best. It’ll be tough to do damage with such a tough-looking schedule, but Mayfield has a certain edge that can drive the team on and also inspire others around him.
Nobody can say with any great confidence that the Panthers are destined for great things with Mayfield under center. Fitterer being right about their chances cannot be ruled out, either.
It’s a fine line. One that could bring joy or further misery when it’s all said and done.