Ignoring outside noise key to Baker Mayfield’s chances with the Panthers

(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

It’s absolutely vital for Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield to ignore the outside noise ahead of his new opportunity with the organization. 

One would have to be living under a rock to not see what’s being said about Baker Mayfield following his trade to the Carolina Panthers. Reports from sources within the Cleveland Browns state that those within the organization deemed him as “childish and immature“, which played a role in the franchise pursuing controversial signal-caller Deshaun Watson for a king’s ransom and $230 million fully guaranteed.

Controversy and hot debate have followed Mayfield around since his college days. Nothing new to him, obviously, but the Panthers clearly feel like his characteristics can help them in 2022 after months of intense negotiations with the Browns.

Mayfield will know full well the allegations surrounding his approach. Something that should provide the Oklahoma product will all the motivation needed to prove his doubters wrong in a new environment.

Playing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder from Week 2 last season might have been ill-advised. But it is a strong indicator that Mayfield was willing to sacrifice anything for the team – even his own health.

This is something the Panthers had previously when Cam Newton was at the peak of his exceptional powers. Although Mayfield doesn’t have much hope of reaching the former NFL MVP’s level, steadying the ship and contributing to genuine progress is all the fans are looking for after yet another gamble in the trade market.

Baker Mayfield is keen to be himself with the Carolina Panthers

Reading the pre-conceived notions about Mayfield could lead to some within the locker room forming their own opinions of the player before sharing the field. When discussing this topic during an introductory press conference, the No. 1 overall selection in 2018 is going to be himself and allow others to gravitate towards him in training camp.

"“There’s always a preconceived notion about anybody, maybe with myself a little more so than others. But I just look forward to getting in the building and letting guys know how much I truly love football and how much fun I have doing it and the process. Every situation is different, and I’ve always tried to be a guy who gravitates toward others and elevates their game and who they are. That’s just how I’ve always been. It just takes being around the building for that to happen.”"

This is a tremendous opportunity awaiting Mayfield next season. There will be the obvious glare from local and national media, but ignoring the outside noise and not forcing the issue is the best chance he has of making a real go of things in Carolina.

After so many years of stagnation, Mayfield’s competitive edge and high standards should be a breath of fresh air. There is enough talent around the player to achieve great things and the arrival of Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator also comes with a substantial amount of intrigue.

Mayfield is a polarizing figure and has been from the moment he entered the league. This experience should serve him well, but producing the goods where it counts is of paramount importance in the final year of his rookie deal.

Carolina didn’t give up all that much to secure Mayfield’s services. If it doesn’t work out, then the franchise can move forward with Matt Corral providing he develops accordingly, or even cast their eye on an outstanding group of quarterbacks emanating from the college ranks in 2023.

Even if Mayfield is an acquired taste to some, it’s important all that is put to one side in pursuit of the same goal. Otherwise, more misery and underachievement will follow in a critical third season for head coach Matt Rhule.

General manager Scott Fitterer was clearly impressed with Mayfield’s desire and overall mindset when sitting down with the player to work out some additional elements of the trade. The signal-caller also sacrificed $3.5 million to come on board based on how the incentives are structured.

Fans are right to err on the side of caution given how recent decisions at the most important position on the field have gone of late. But it’s hard to deny that Mayfield has far more about him than the likes of Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater.

This leaves reasons to be encouraged, which is a good thing. If Mayfield can ignore everything else and remove all the speculation about being a distraction, then the Panthers might just have themselves a productive presence under center at long last.

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