After months of wondering where quarterback Baker Mayfield would be playing, he was finally traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Carolina Panthers. He will join Sam Darnold in the quarterback room at Bank of America Stadium and has high hopes for them both.
Mayfield and Darnold will be competing for the starting job, and Mayfield believes the competition can enhance both of their play.
“Sam reached out, got my number first,” Mayfield said (via the team’s official website). “We’ve been talking about how to get the guys together the last minute before camp. It’s been great. Sam just wants to win. That’s just who he is. Our personalities might be different, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the same goal, and that’s to win and help this team out. I’m really looking forward to being in that room with him and just challenging each other, and elevating each other.”
Mayfield, whose days in Cleveland were all but numbered when the Browns acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson, compared his trade to the Panthers to college, when he transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma.
“Obviously, the NFL is different than college, but walking on twice, and having to go through that process, you level the playing field.”
The 27-year-old once again mentioned the benefits of having to compete for a job and said he is used to having to earn his role.
“You compete against other guys, and you build confidence in yourself. It’s very similar to when I left Texas Tech to go to Oklahoma. They had one of my best friends, Trevor Knight, who had just won the Sugar Bowl, was the MVP, he was going to be a sophomore. I decided to transfer there, knowing there was going to be competition, and it wasn’t going to be easy.”
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Going into the season, Mayfield’s focus is on bettering himself and his teammates.
“It’s about betting on yourself and believing in that, and giving it your all. And just trying to be a good teammate and help everybody win.”
The Panthers have not found a reliable quarterback since since Cam Newton’s prime, so they will be looking for who their No. 1 guy can be going forward. Last season, the Panthers went 5-12 and were last in the NFC South, missing the playoffs.
Mayfield’s time in Cleveland was a rollercoaster, with the high being a playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2020 season and the lows including injuries, inconsistent play and reports of childish and immature behavior. Whether he will be the answer to Carolina’s quarterback dilemma is not a sure bet, but he seems confident with what he can do for the team.