How will Carolina Panthers QB Baker Mayfield handle the occasion?
This is one of the biggest storylines heading into Week 1 across the entire NFL: Baker Mayfield battling it out against his former team.
A long offseason brought more than enough quarterback drama in Cleveland. The Browns acquired Deshaun Watson in a convoluted trade market, where they were reportedly out of the conversation before ultimately obtaining him.
Mayfield felt disrespected by the Browns organization long before Watson was traded and rightfully so. In 2020, the Heisman Trophy winner led Cleveland to its first winning record since 2007, its first playoff appearance in 18 years, and its first playoff victory in over a quarter of a century.
One year later, the Browns were ready to move on.
A game with emotions running high will be expected. It was a messy offseason before the two sides parted ways, and Mayfield is not one to shy away from wanting revenge.
Additionally, there was a leak where Mayfield told a reporter he was “going to f–k them up“. He later denied saying the sentiment, but it’s hard to deny there’s a lot of motivation on both sides to exploit the other.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the most significant game of Mayfield’s NFL career. However, it’s the biggest contest of the year to him and it will certainly mean the most.
His priority will still be to win. But getting revenge on his former team will be just as sweet.
Mayfield looked good in training camp and during his time on the field in the preseason. If he continues to display that level of production, the Carolina Panthers should have a successful campaign.