The Carolina Panthers joined unique territory when they acquired Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns this week. With the Mayfield trade complete, the Panthers became just the second team in the common draft era (since 1967) to have two quarterbacks taken with the top three overall picks on the same roster.
The other top three quarterback on the Panthers roster is Sam Darnold, who Carolina acquired prior to last season. Darnold was selected No. 3 overall in the 2018 draft and Mayfield was selected No. 1 overall. The Panthers joined the 1980 Oakland Raiders in this unique category, as Oakland had Jim Plunkett (No. 1 overall in 1971) and Dan Pastorini (No. 3 overall) on its roster.
The Houston Oilers traded Pastorini to the Raiders in 1980 for Ken Stabler, but a broken leg paved the way for Plunkett to lead the team the rest of the season to a Super Bowl championship. Pastorini threw two touchdowns and 14 interceptions over the rest of his career.
Plunkett revitalized his career as a result. The Raiders went 9-2 in Plunkett’s 11 starts, as he threw for 2,299 yards with 18 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. The Raiders became the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl, as Plunkett completed 53.3% of his passes for 839 yards with seven touchdowns to three interceptions in four postseason starts. He was named the MVP of Super Bowl XV, becoming just the second player to win the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP award.
Mayfield took a step back with the Browns this past season as he battled a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder throughout the year. He ended up missing one game with the injury and another game with a knee strain. Mayfield had surgery on the torn labrum in January, ending his season once the Browns were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
He completed 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions (83.1 passer rating) last season. Of 32 qualified quarterbacks, Mayfield finished 27th in completion percentage, 22nd in touchdown passes, 17th in yards per attempt (7.2) and 27th in quarterback rating.
Mayfield is expected to be the starter over Darnold, who completed 59.9% of his passes for 2,527 yards with nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions for a 71.9 passer rating last season, as the Panthers went 4-7 in his starts. He finished 31st in touchdown passes, 30th in completion percentage, 30th in yards per attempt (6.2) and 31st in passer rating. Of the 30 quarterbacks with 1,000 pass attempts since the start of 2018 (Darnold’s rookie season), Darnold ranks last in completion percentage (59.8%), last in touchdown percentage (3.3), last in quarterback rating (76.9) and last in yards per attempt (6.5).
Regardless of which quarterback the Panthers choose, they are going to make history in 2022. Whether history repeats itself like the 1980 Raiders will be determined.