Saturday, August 13, 2022

Baker Mayfield trade: Panthers QB admits he has season opener vs. Browns ‘marked on the calendar’

It was months in the making, but Baker Mayfield is officially a Carolina Panthers quarterback. Time will tell how the rotation shakes out with fellow former top-five pick Sam Darnold — whom the Panthers traded for last year — but it seems a foregone conclusion Mayfield will take on the starting role immediately, and possibly as early as the season opener against his former team, the Cleveland Browns.

Given just how toxic the divorce was between those two, from the decision to trade for Deshaun Watson to everything else surrounding the eventual split, all eyes are on Mayfield’s view of that contest on Sept. 11. For his part, he’s not hiding from the obvious storyline of possibly getting a bit of revenge against Cleveland.

Instead, he’s embracing it.

“I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you that’s not one I’ve marked on the calendar already,” Mayfield said, via the Panthers official website. “One, that’s not who I am. To me, it’s about winning games.

“Whoever we have marked on the schedule, I’m going to try to win.” 

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But while the 27-year-old is making it clear his approach is the same for every opponent he plays, his looming battle against the team that once gave him the nod as the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft before jettisoning him four seasons later hits different — to his own admission. He’ll try to balance his emotions with what matters most, and that’s getting off to a winning start with the Panthers (it currently being unknown who will be the Browns starting QB when the two sides collide at Bank of America Stadium).

“Obviously, this one has a little more history and personal meaning, but for me, it’s about winning and setting the tone for the rest of the year,” said Mayfield. “And however I can help this team do that, I’m going to do.”

But, bottom line, is Mayfield holding a grudge against the Browns?

“I try not to,” he said, grinning. 

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