The starting spot is not promised to Baker as many thought. The Carolina Panthers recently acquired Baker Mayfield for a 2024 5th (which may become 4th) round Draft pick. This came on the heels of the Browns acquiring Deshaun Watson, which understandably shattered their relationship with Mayfield. Mayfield was clearly upset the Browns had more or less let the world know his time in Cleveland was numbered. Many believed Baker would drop right into the starting role for Carolina, but not according to GM Scott Fitterer. In his words it is an “open competition” and wants it clear the starting spot is not promised to Baker.
Starting spot up in the air
The Panthers have 2 strong candidates to take the starting role this year for the team. Sam Darnold who is coming into his fifth year in the NFL started 11 games last year, missing time due to a fractured scapula. During his 12 games he played, Darnold and the Panthers went 4-7. Darnold put up 2,527 yards and 9 touchdowns on 243 completions, along with 13 interceptions. He, like Baker is moving into his final year of his contract. In a sink or swim predicament, only one will be left on the roster next year.
Baker also had missed time with various injuries but managed to start 14 games for the Browns in 2021. The team went 6-8 with Baker under center. He put up 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns on 253 completions with 13 interceptions. It’s not a stretch to say that Baker turned the Browns around. It wasn’t until Tyrod Taylor was injured in week three of the 2018 season that Baker had his chance. Down 14-0 Baker led the Browns to a win and ended their 19 game losing streak. Then went on to win 6 more games that season. 7 more than their win-less season had produced the year prior.
The backup’s backup battle is also in full swing
The Panthers will more than likely roster a third quarterback given Baker and Darnold’s injury prone past. This leaves PJ Walker and recently drafted Matt Corral to battle it out. The likely selection is going to be Matt Corral as the Panthers must’ve had a good reason to spend a third round draft pick on him. PJ is sure to be a good mentor in the meantime before the final team cuts are made.
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