On Wednesday the saga of Baker Mayfield reached some conclusion as the Browns dealt the one-time No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers. The trade was for a conditional Fifth Round pick in 2024, with the Panthers and Browns splitting the cost of his salary for the season.
Mayfield joins a crowd at quarterback for the Panthers, who roster former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold and spent a Third-Round pick on rookie Matt Corral. The Panthers intend to enter training camp with all of them, creating a quarterback competition.
Mayfield played four seasons in Cleveland, going 29-30 as a starter. His best season was 2020, where the Browns went 11-5 and made the playoffs. Mayfield completed 61.6 percent of his passes, throwing for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. He figures to have the best chance of winning the job, but it’s not a lock.
The Panthers are just one year removed from pulling off a trade for Darnold and picking up his fifth-year option before he played a game for them. Darnold started strong in 2021 but quickly faded. He completed 59.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 11 starts. The team went 4-7 in those starts. Darnold did add value as a rusher, going for 222 yards and five touchdowns.
The wild card is Corral, who some viewed as the top quarterback prospect entering the draft. At Ole’ Miss, Corral threw for 8,297 yards and 57 touchdowns in four seasons. The past two seasons, he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns each season. While the longest shot in this trio, he could impress in camp.
So, the big question is whether the trade moves the needle. I still don’t think Carolina is a strong playoff contender, though I do think Mayfield ends up winning the job. The Panthers could easily move in a new direction in 2023, making a coaching change and seeing Mayfield and Darnold as free agents. That doesn’t move the needle much for either player’s dynasty prospects.
For 2022, Mayfield is a fringe low-end QB2. I currently have him sitting as QB25 in me re-draft rankings. Christian McCaffrey’s biggest challenge is staying healthy, as we’ve seen him thrive despite middling quarterback play. He’s still a Top 5 RB for me in re-draft. The only real defined beneficiary is receiver D.J. Moore, who I moved from mid-WR2 to high-end WR2/fringe WR1 range. I think he lands in the WR11-15 range, currently I have him slotted as WR14.
The rest of the receiving corps is a work in progress. Robby Anderson didn’t have great chemistry with Darnold and already made some unflattering comments about Mayfield. He’s more of a boom/bust option. Terrace Marshall, Jr., Rashard Higgins and tight end Ian Thomas will compete for targets. I think any of the four could have some decent games, but I don’t view any as reliable starters.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.
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