5 Carolina Panthers firmly on the hot seat entering 2022 season

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

Baker Mayfield – Carolina Panthers QB

Hope is something the Carolina Panthers haven’t had at quarterback for some time.

It was there briefly when Cam Newton returned in 2021. But not since the former NFL MVP was in his prime has there been a legitimate belief that the man under center can take over a game and will the team to victory.

Now, it might be a different story.

Baker Mayfield‘s arrival via trade from the Cleveland Browns could be the spark Carolina needs. The fiery signal-caller has a big chip on his shoulder and integrated superbly into the franchise despite the short timeframe after the move was confirmed.

Mayfield quietly went about his business with determination, improved leadership, and renewed focus. Players selected No. 1 overall normally get a second chance somewhere, but there might not be a third if the Oklahoma product cannot make a go of things in a different environment.

Everything seems to be in place for Mayfield to thrive. Carolina has Christian McCaffrey back, an abundance of weapons in the passing game, upgrades across the offensive line, and a coordinator in Ben McAdoo whose scheme looks tailor-made for his new quarterback.

It would be a surprise if Mayfield didn’t bounce back. However, that does not detract from what a crossroads campaign awaits the Heisman Trophy winner.