There won’t be a more intriguing matchup in week one of the NFL season when the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns meet up.
The deal is pending a physical. Cleveland is set to take on over $10 million of Mayfield’s salary while the Panthers will pay the former first overall pick just around $5 million.
The Heisman trophy winner is in the final year of his rookie contract.
The move comes after a months-long standoff between the Browns and their former franchise quarterback. Shortly before entering and winning the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, Cleveland was searching for a new quarterback after Mayfield’s disappointing and injury-filled 2021 campaign.
Mayfield, in turn, was looking for a change of scenery after reportedly losing the Browns locker room.
Carolina’s future for Baker
In Carolina, Baker joins a quarterback room of fellow 2018 top five pick, Sam Darnold, and rookie Matt Corrall. Head coach Matt Rhule is entering HIS third year on the job in Carolina, and is one of the favorites to be on the “hot seat” throughout the 2022 season.
Having a playoff-winning quarterback won’t hurt his chances though.
Carolina did miss out on the Watson sweepstakes, but still received a competent starting quarterback to lead the team in 2022. Baker will now be throwing to the likes of DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson and former teammate Rashard Higgins.
Mayfield took over for an 0-16 Browns team that had one of the worst runs in league history going 1-31 in a two year stretch. The Oklahoma star instantly brought the Browns credibility and into the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
But after controversy surrounding his leadership skills following the trade of Odell Beckham Jr., and trying to play through a major shoulder injury, Cleveland missed the playoffs in 2021 and finished 8-9.
Baker finishes his four year Brown’s career fourth in team history in passing yards, fifth in touchdown passes and seventh in win percentage.
Carolina is looking to improve on their disappointing 5-12 season last year. After starting 3-0, injuries to Darnold and other top players sank the 2021 campaign. The Panthers took rookie phenom Ikem Ekwonu to protect the quarterback’s blindside as well.
While the Browns continue to wait on potential discipline for Deshaun Watson stemming from his 24 original sexual assault allegations, Cleveland closes one of its more successful chapters in recent memory with a disappointing and bitter breakup of a quarterback they once thought of as their savior.
Mayfield hasn’t shied away from the Browns shunting him away either. And the fact that the Panthers and Browns meet week one in Carolina will only help increase the intensity in what was otherwise a quiet matchup.
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