5 critical Carolina Panthers observations at the 2022 midseason point

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

The Carolina Panthers QB conundrum goes on

Another roll of the dice at quarterback was eventually secured by the Carolina Panthers when they brought Baker Mayfield into the fold via trade from the Cleveland Browns. The former Oklahoma standout left a good impression in difficult circumstances throughout training camp, but performances in a competitive environment just weren’t good enough and the team suffered as a result.

Mayfield looked extremely hesitant in the pocket, had trouble with batted passes, and couldn’t develop the right chemistry with his primary playmakers before getting injured in Week 5. Now fully healthy, the Heisman Trophy winner is playing second-fiddle to P.J. Walker, who seized his starting chance and provided a level of urgency that wasn’t evident previously.

One could make a case that Mayfield was dealt a poor hand. Putting him in a needless competition with Sam Darnold denied him the opportunity to hone cohesion at an important time and was further evidence of the previous head coach Matt Rhule’s poor management of team affairs.

What the future holds for Mayfield is unclear. He’s received praise from Steve Wilks for a professional approach in a backup role, which is what the signal-caller might have to settle for in Carolina or elsewhere in 2023.

This gamble didn’t go as many hoped. It might be worth the Panthers giving Mayfield another shot without Rhule’s presence within a more expansive offensive scheme to see what they have once and for all, but that is dependent on Walker’s production.