Monday, August 15, 2022

How Baker Mayfield can earn back the $3.5 million in salary he gave up to facilitate Panthers trade

To further help facilitate the trade that now has him in line to be the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in 2022, Baker Mayfield agreed to take a $3.5 million pay cut. After the news of the trade and pay cut came out, it was reported that Mayfield has an opportunity to earn back that money via incentives. As Mayfield is on the verge of attending training camp in the coming days, his path to making that money back is becoming clear. 

ESPN has a breakdown of Mayfield’s incentives and how he can incrementally chip away at that pay cut. A majority of his incentives are coupled with playing 75% of the Panthers’ offensive snaps this season. If he does that and the team earns 10 wins, he’ll earn $250k. If he plays that much and the team finishes top five in the conference or top 10 in the league in total offense, he’ll see $300k. If he plays 75% of the snaps and the team finishes top five in the NFC or top 10 in the NFL in points scored, that’s another $300k. 

Meanwhile, if his completion percentage is top five in the NFC or top 10 in the NFL (with a minimum of 224 attempts), he’ll make $300k. Mayfield will make $500k if he is named to the Pro Bowl. 

Lastly, Mayfield has postseason incentives that are also dependent on playing at least 75% of the team’s offensive snap, plus 50% of the snaps for each playoff game. If he can stay on the field that long and the Panthers win in the Divisional Round, he’ll make $500k. If they win the NFC Championship, he’ll earn $600k. A win in Super Bowl LVII would give Mayfield his biggest bonus of this incentive package, paying out $750k. 

Of course, some of those incentives are easier to achieve than others. Given that he is the favorite to win the job out of the gate, he should be able to reach that 75% threshold so long as his play is solid and he remains healthy.

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Mayfield has a career completion percentage of 61.6, which would need to drastically improve if he wanted to be slotted inside the top 10 in the league and reach that incentive. For instance, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, and Jared Goff all tied for 10th in the NFL with a 67.2 completion percentage in 2021. 

As for the incentives tied to overall team success, the Panthers currently have an Over/Under win total of 6.5 at Caesars Sportsbook. They are also +400 to even reach the postseason. 

So, it’s certainly an uphill battle for Mayfield in his quest to earn back that money. However, if he plays to a level that sees him get even some of it back in his pocket, the Panthers will likely be thrilled to hand it over.

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