The Carolina Panthers are still in pursuit of a quarterback. The Sam Darnold experiment has failed, bringing back Cam Newton for one final run has failed and time is running out for the fan base. In laymen’s terms, the Panthers have failed to address the most important position in the sport and they have divided their fans to a point where Twitter has been quite a show when mentioning anything Panthers-related.
With the NFL Draft coming up, the Panthers currently own the #6 overall pick and with that pick, there is still the option of drafting a guy like Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis, but rumors are buzzing about a former #1 overall pick coming to Charlotte.
According to several sources, including NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport and Mary Kay Cabot from Cleveland.com, the Carolina Panthers have the inside track to trade for Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Back with the same format as with Colin Kaepernick, here are the pros and cons of the Carolina Panthers possibly trading and signing Baker Mayfield.
One Final Opportunity for Redemption
To be completely honest, the last month has been a nightmare for Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has seen his former team throw him to the curb and make a blockbuster trade to acquire Deshaun Watson without letting him know that the Browns were pursuing Watson. If you really want to think about things, the Cleveland Browns did Mayfield dirty, but Baker is a victim of the NFL system. As soon as a quarterback starts to struggle, that team will be searching for his replacement.
Even though his time in Cleveland ended with a whimper, Mayfield could revitalize his chances with a solid season with Carolina. Baker would obviously be an upgrade from Sam Darnold and give Carolina a possible quality QB on their roster.
Even though the consensus is not a positive one for Baker in Carolina, it would be a good move for Mayfield to try to get his career back on track.
Give Carolina other options to pursue with the #6 pick
Instead of drafting a quarterback at #6, the Carolina Panthers could pursue other positions to benefit Baker Mayfield. Depending on how the other five picks go, there will still be some grade-A offensive linemen that can help a team like Carolina. Guys like Charles Cross, Ikem Ekwonu, or Evan Neal (if available) would help the offensive line for Carolina.
Even though fans would love to see Carolina pick a quarterback with the sixth overall pick, there are not any true early first-round quarterbacks this year. Several draft experts use the fact that the Panthers struck out on the Deshaun Watson to propel players like Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett up their boards.
With the trade for Baker Mayfield, the Panthers can focus on next season’s crop of QB talent while focusing on supplementing the team around Mayfield.
Another One-Year Rental for Carolina at QB
The Carolina Panthers have slowly become a rehabilitation center for mediocre quarterbacks ever since Cam Newton suffered a season-ending foot injury in 2019. Whether it was Kyle Allen or Will Grier, Teddy Bridgewater, or Sam Darnold, the Panthers have brought in one average or below-average quarterback after another to try and recapture their past success.
The lowest point of the time period was when the Panthers decided to bring back Cam Newton in 2021 to try and get fans to come to games because Sam wasn’t moving the needle.
Trading for Baker Mayfield would just be another example of the Carolina Panthers trying to put a bandage on a wound that is not healing anytime soon without a permanent option. Maybe this trade will work out and then they could keep Baker, but based on recent history, don’t make bets that you will not win.
This is a major con that needs to be addressed before the pen goes to the paper.
Mayfield may not be a well-liked figure in the Locker Room
When news came out that the Carolina Panthers were the “favorite” to pursue Baker Mayfield, the biggest comment came from WR Robby Anderson. Anderson, defiant in his ways, emphatically said ‘No’ and doubled down on his comments when the news came out that he didn’t want Baker in Carolina, he just said ‘facts’.
Even though Robby Anderson is one player, there was a scene last season in which he showed frustration towards Sam Darnold.
Now, we do not know exactly if Robby is the only player who has expressed frustration towards the rumors of Baker Mayfield being traded to Carolina, but this is already a bad look for Mayfield. Let’s not forget that as soon as the Deshaun Watson news popped up and Baker requested a trade, Mayfield and the Panthers had “mutual disinterest”, but maybe due to desperation, things changed.
If Baker Mayfield does get traded to Carolina, it would take time for him to win over the locker room but it is better than having Sam Darnold as the QB.
While Baker Mayfield is a slight upgrade from Sam Darnold and he would have a good squad to work with, it is still a retread of the same old same old for Carolina. The way I see it is that the Panthers would have to give up a few Day 3 draft picks and have the Browns take a chunk of Baker’s contract, so the Panthers would not be spending a lot of money.
If this situation doesn’t work, then this would be the last stand for Matt Rhule as head coach.
For Rhule, you can’t have two bad quarterback rentals in two consecutive years and think you will be the head coach the following year. If Mayfield does well and leads the Panthers to a wildcard berth, Rhule keeps his job and Mayfield gets his redemption.
If the Carolina Panthers get below five wins and Baker struggles just like Sam Darnold last season, then they would be heading towards the top of the draft boards and then a franchise-saving quarterback may be there in 2023. Panther fans, I know you are tired of the carousel but don’t worry, the time may be coming to an end soon.
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