4 reasons why the Panthers could secure unlikely playoff spot in 2022

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

Carolina Panthers could have an X-factor at QB

Another big gamble at the quarterback position saw the Carolina Panthers acquire Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns after lengthy negotiations. They got a good deal for the No. 1 overall selection in 2018, giving up a conditional fifth-round selection in 2024 and paying just $5 million of his fully guaranteed $18.85 million for good measure.

Mayfield had a lot on his plate coming into the organization. After working his way into the system gradually, the signal-caller came to life from the second week onwards in Spartanburg, imposing himself on the field and within the locker room to cement his status above Sam Darnold.

Everything points to Mayfield being under center when the regular season begins. And this could be the difference-maker Carolina’s been looking for since the team’s controversial decision to release Cam Newton in 2020.

The former Oklahoma standout has some flaws. But there is an edge to his play that fellow teammates are clearly gravitating towards, which is a great sign given how late he came into the franchise.

This could blow up in the Panthers’ face, obviously. However, with jobs on the line next season, Mayfield’s aura and proven production could make all the difference to a team that has an abundance of talent at the skill positions.

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