How will Baker Mayfield’s time with the Panthers be remembered?

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

After his mutual release this week, how will quarterback Baker Mayfield’s time with the Carolina Panthers be remembered?

It didn’t take long for Baker Mayfield to land on his feet after his release by the Carolina Panthers on Monday. The quarterback was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams, who are going nowhere fast during a disastrous Super Bowl defense but find themselves in desperate need of assistance under center with Matt Stafford currently on injured/reserve and unlikely to return in 2022.

This is a win-win for all parties. It provides Mayfield with an opportunity to salvage something from another failed campaign and it gets Carolina off the hook for his remaining salary, which stands at around $1.35 million.

Mayfield’s high-profile trade from the Cleveland Browns was seemingly doomed from the start. He was widely liked and respected within the locker room based on comments after the move became reality, but there was something missing on the field and the former Oklahoma star was deemed surplus to requirements by interim head coach Steve Wilks as a result.

Baker Mayfield trade was a microcosm of the Carolina Panthers era under Matt Rhule

Carolina acquiring Mayfield was one last stab by Matt Rhule at football’s most crucial position. Yet somehow, the previous head coach did everything in his power to make things extremely difficult for the Heisman Trophy winner.

This began with an unnecessary quarterback competition in training camp that prevented vital reps. Something that left the signal-caller playing catch-up after arriving late in the preparation period.

It was no surprise to see Mayfield struggle over the first five games before going to injured/reserve. P.J. Walker’s slight improvements when tasked with starting responsibilities and Sam Darnold’s efficient return in Week 12 meant the No. 1 overall selection in 2018 had no future with his current employers.

Mayfield recognized this after a period of reflection during the bye week. Wilks was also man enough to grant him a few weeks elsewhere for one final audition before free agency next spring.

There’s no doubt Mayfield’s time with the Panthers will be remembered as a huge failure. Yet another disappointing personnel move from Rhule, who just couldn’t get things right when it mattered and eventually paid the heaviest price.

Mayfield will be the first to tell you his performances weren’t good enough. But the Panthers also need to be held accountable for their fair share of the blame.

This trade was a microcosm of Rhule’s three-year stint as head coach. Big promises and expectations but little in the way of genuine substance.

That’s the long and short of it, really.

Carolina was inevitably going to move on from Mayfield once his contract expired. This just wasn’t a good fit, although the player deserves credit for his impressive attitude and team-first mentality throughout.

Giving him a chance elsewhere was the right thing to do. Whether Mayfield can make the most of it behind a porous offensive line in Los Angeles is another matter.

The Panthers can close this particular chapter without much to show. Even if it might not change their dire need for a long-term solution under center.

Darnold will get a prolonged run down the stretch unless something drastic occurs. But expect Carolina to go after one of the top prospects entering from the college ranks in 2023 as a matter of urgency.

Carolina swung for the fences with Mayfield and got caught out. This is yet another cautionary tale of what can happen if the thought process within any organization isn’t on the same page.

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