Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Panthers don’t intend to trade Sam Darnold after acquiring Baker Mayfield from Browns, per report


The Carolina Panthers had been flirting with the possibility of trading for Baker Mayfield for the majority of the offseason, and they finally executed the deal Wednesday. The club acquired the former No. 1 overall pick for a conditional fifth-rounder, while Mayfield’s former club, the Cleveland Browns, will be footing the bill for the majority of the quarterback’s contract for the 2022 season. 

It’s a low-risk, high-reward trade for the Panthers that now shoots Mayfield atop the quarterback depth chart in Carolina, and he’ll almost certainly be the Week 1 starter. That move now bumps Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold down to a backup role after starting 11 games for the team in 2021. Despite this deal and subsequent relegation for Darnold, ESPN reports that the Panthers don’t have any intention of moving the quarterback.

The Panthers traded for Darnold last offseason, sending a 2021 sixth-rounder along with a second and fourth-round pick in 2022 to the New York Jets. While the organization hoped a change of scenery would help the former first-round pick get back on track, it never came to fruition. Darnold’s numbers in his first season with the Panthers stayed largely the same from his final campaign with the Jets. 

In 12 appearances, he completed 59.9% of his passes and had a 71.9 passer rating, which was a career-low. Carolina was also 4-7 in his 11 starts. 

Part of the reason why the Panthers may not be interested in trading Darnold could simply stem from it being too difficult to swing a deal. The team exercised his fifth-year option after acquiring him from New York, and he is set to make a base salary of $18.858 million in 2022. It would seem unlikely that a team would be willing to take on that salary for a backup, and Carolina would likely be forced to pay some of it, similar to what the Browns are doing with Mayfield. With that in mind, it may be more beneficial for the Panthers to keep Darnold as a backup who has familiarity with the system rather than pay for him to be a backup somewhere else. 

Meanwhile, Carolina also has rookie Matt Corral, who’ll also factor into the quarterback reps during camp. 

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