Did the Carolina Panthers make a mistake with Baker Mayfield?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

Did the Carolina Panthers make a mistake by releasing quarterback Baker Mayfield after his sensational debut for the Los Angeles Rams?

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield has been trending ever since leading his new team, the Los Angeles Rams, to a dramatic comeback victory over the woeful Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football.

The Rams improve to 4-9 and the Raiders fall to 5-8 following a 98-yard drive led by Mayfield. This was capped off by a 23-yard strike to wide receiver Van Jefferson with just 10 seconds remaining.

This was very reminiscent of Mayfield’s first game in Carolina against the Cleveland Browns. The quarterback struggled mightily throughout the first three quarters before turning in an admirable performance in the final quarter.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Mayfield is 2-1 when coming off the bench while trailing by 13 or more points. The first coming in his NFL debut and the other was last night after relieving starter John Wolford following his first drive.

This is the very same Mayfield that the Panthers were hoping to get when they traded for him during the offseason. So what went wrong? Did Carolina make a mistake in pulling the cord during the season?

Baker Mayfield wasn’t a fit for the Carolina Panthers

Mayfield did not play well during his short stint in Carolina. He finished last in ESPN’s total QBR of all eligible quarterbacks and his struggles can be attributed to being the last straw of former head coach Matt Rhule’s tenure.

An injury knocked the No. 1 overall selection in 2018 out of action in Week 5, leading to a surprising stretch of solid production from P.J. Walker. Unfortunately for the one-time XFL MVP candidate, he also suffered an ankle complication that led to Mayfield regaining his position as the starter.

After an abysmal performance against the Baltimore Ravens, Mayfield once again found himself on the bench against the Denver Broncos. Sam Darnold turned in a relatively impressive performance, bringing his win total as a starter this season identical to that of Mayfield’s, paving way for the Panthers to feel comfortable about moving on from the former Oklahoma Sooner.

In his first season as offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo’s game plan has been flat-out disappointing. The Panthers’ offense currently ranks No. 30 in total yards per game and No. 25 in points per game, which simply isn’t good enough.

As revealed in a New York Post article back in 2018, McAdoo was not a fan of Mayfield coming out of college on his way to becoming the No. 1 overall selection. The fit between the pair was always a head-scratcher and it’s clear that more mobile quarterbacks such as Walker and Darnold represent better fits within his scheme.

Unfortunately for fans of Mayfield and the Panthers, this relationship never seemed destined to work long-term. Carolina bought low, tested the waters, and decided to pull the plug because there was no chance it was going to work out.

With Carolina potentially landing a high draft pick in a rich 2023 class, the possibility of a brand new head coach and coaching staff, Matt Corral coming back from injury, and the comparable play from Darnold and Walker, the Panthers made a decision that has seemed to work for both parties.

As for Mayfield, he’s the talk of the NFL once again after a phenomenal debut in Los Angeles. Whether he can keep this up over their remaining four games is the big question.

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