Baker Mayfield Lands in the NFC

Purple Rumor Mill: Baker Mayfield on the Horizon, Ndamukong Suh, a Market Set for Jefferson
Oct 3, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

After 3.5 months of speculation, Baker Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday.

Mayfield previously quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns for four seasons, guiding the franchise to its first playoff win in 25+ years in 2020. But Cleveland took a sharp foundational turn in March, trading a king’s ransom for the embattled Deshaun Watson, who is facing a suspension in 2022 for sexual misconduct.

In the Panthers deal, Mayfield was reportedly exchanged for a 2024 conditional 5th-round draft pick — a teensy package for a QB1 coveted as little as 18 months ago.

But Mayfield will get a fresh start, which is what the Oklahoma alumnus desired after his previous employer wiggled into the Watson sweepstakes.

Mayfield was around the league’s seventh-worst quarterback in 2021, playing most of the season through injury. The iron-man effort did not advance his career, at least not yet.

Suddenly, the Panthers QB room is filled to the brim with options. While Mayfield is expected to start, these players also exist on Carolina’s depth chart:

  • Sam Darnold
  • Matt Corral
  • PJ Walker
  • Davis Cheek

Few will object to Darnold’s banishment to QB2, but some Panthers faithful had high hopes for the rookie Corral, who possessed an outside chance to start this season if he could knock off Darnold in training camp or preseason.

That’s all moot for now as Mayfield grips the QB1 job for a team that finished 5-12 in 2021.

Financially, Cleveland, not Carolina, will pay the bulk of Mayfield’s salary this season ($10.5 million), trimming over $8 million in cash and salary-cap space for this summer and beyond. And the Browns already lead the NFL in most available cap space. Mayfield also took a $3.5 million paycut in the deal.

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports.

Since 2018, Mayfield owns a 92-touchdown to 56-interception split, a commendable mark for a young quarterback. The 92 touchdowns rank 12th in the NFL over the last four years.

If Mayfield is the quarterback beyond this season, the Vikings will face him in 2023 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Mayfield is 27 years old.



Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).