Football has a short memory, just ask Baker Mayfield.
After leading the Browns to their first playoff win in 26 years and their first playoff appearance in 22 years Mayfield seemed to have solidified himself as the Browns QB of the future. But after an injury plagued, and frankly appalling performance on the field in 2021, Mayfield found himself being ousted by DeShaun Watson.
In fairness Mayfield didn’t handle the situation well in the beginning, demanding to be traded after the Browns had an initial scoping of the Watson situation, and there were reports that he wasn’t a great team mate or stand-up guy during his last year in Cleveland. But then he also didn’t face 26 allegations of sexual assault.
BAKER MAYFIELD’S NEW START IN CAROLINA
Now having been traded for pennies on the dollar Baker Mayfield gets a second chance in Carolina. His stable mate at QB? Fellow 2018 first-round draft pick Sam Darnold. Darnold himself fared shakily last season in his first year with the Panthers, and while there has been talk of moving Darnold on, that seems unlikely as the market for him is very soft.
On paper Mayfield is streets ahead in on-field performance. Sam Darnold has had to compete with Adam Gase as his head coach, so there must be some leeway given, but his performance in 2021 wasn’t much better.
Matt Rhule clearly believes Baker Mayfield could be an upgrade, and there’s no question Mayfield has the lead in the race to be the Panthers starter. If he can return to his 2020 pre-injury form there’s no question Mayfield has the ability to lead the Panthers back to the playoffs.
In 2021 PFF graded Baker Mayfield the 8th best QB, whilst grading Sam Darnold 26th out of 26 qualifying QB’s. Even in 2022, a major downturn for Mayfield, he graded out at 21/27 while Darnold came in 26th.
The question marks do remain about Baker Mayfield. Is he arrogant? Can he lead the locker room better than he did in Cleveland? Can he move from quality starter to franchise QB?
In Carolina he gets a fresh start to prove himself.