Senior league figures expecting big things from Baker Mayfield in 2022
By Dean Jones
A number of senior figures from across the NFL are expecting big things from Baker Mayfield during his first season with the Carolina Panthers.
Trading for Baker Mayfield was one last roll of the dice for head coach Matt Rhule. Betting his job on Sam Darnold was never going to be wise, but whether his new signal-caller can pick things up quickly before the Carolina Panthers take the field in Week 1 against the team that shipped him out is the big question.
Mayfield‘s had to deal with his name being smeared this offseason. Reports about his childish and immature demeanor on the Cleveland Browns came to the fore once again after the trade was confirmed, which is something to keep a close eye on in training camp and when things aren’t necessarily going the Panthers’ way in 2022.
The Panthers are preaching about a quarterback competition in training camp and Mayfield will have to wrestle the starting gig from Darnold. However, even with the minimal compensation involved, it would be a shock of epic proportions if he wasn’t the No. 1 for the regular season.
Carolina’s acquisition of Mayfield has divided the fanbase. Some are excited to see what the No. 1 overall selection can do in a different environment while others are less than convinced about yet another band-aid solution at the most important position on the field.
Carolina Panthers could have a steal in Baker Mayfield
Matt Lombardo from Heavy.com recently spoke with a number of senior figures across the NFL about Mayfield’s switch to the Panthers. A current offensive play-caller was of the belief that the Oklahoma product is far better than people give him credit for and especially compared to others treading water on other teams.
"“We got a look at him twice over the past two years. And he was clearly better than our quarterback. In every single aspect. I think he is much better than what everyone is making him out to be.”"
This was a sentiment echoed by an AFC South scout, who added that the Panthers would be getting a substantial steal in Mayfield providing the quarterback ignores all the outside noise and focuses on football in the coming months.
"“If he gets back to what made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Carolina will be getting a total steal. But, for Baker, the main thing has to be the main thing — again. He has to let his play do the talking.”"
It’ll be a tough few weeks ahead for Mayfield, who must develop chemistry with his primary playmakers and also get on the same page with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. The coach wasn’t exactly glowing about his new quarterback during pre-draft assessments, so it’ll be interesting to see how these two personalities mesh in pursuit of the same goal.
Mayfield should have all the motivation needed to give it his all. And the Panthers are banking on a return to the 2020 form that became an asset to the Browns en route to a playoff appearance and first postseason triumph since 1994.
If it all goes south, then Mayfield could be in the same situation Darnold now finds himself without the fully guaranteed $18.85 million for added security. But the player has already proven capable of turning heads when the stakes are highest and hopefully, this is a trend that continues in Carolina next season.