Panthers GM: CAR 'Happy With the Group We Have' At QB After Drafting Matt Corral

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 30, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Ole' Miss quarterback Matt Corral (2) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl matchup between the Baylor Bears and the Ole' Miss Rebels on January 01, 2022, at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said the team plans to move forward with Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker and third-round pick Matt Corral as its quarterback room for the 2022 season.

The Panthers have been linked to a potential trade for the Cleveland Browns' Baker Mayfield, but Fitterer appeared to bring an end to that speculation Friday by saying they're "happy with the group we have."

"I never put an absolute on anything," Fitterer told reporters. "We came into this weekend with the intention of getting a quarterback, and that's what we did. And we're going to go with this group."

The Browns are trying to make a deal with basically no leverage. They rebuilt their quarterback room with Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs before finding a new home for Mayfield and his $18.9 million salary-cap hit for next season.

They receive no cap savings if he's released, and Mayfield hasn't played nearly well enough for another team to pay significant assets while also taking on that salary.

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported talks between Carolina and Cleveland broke down during discussions about how to split the final year of Mayfield's contract.

In other words, the Panthers called the Browns' bluff and now there's one less potential suitor for the 2018 first overall pick.

Carolina is probably better off going with Darnold, Walker and Corral anyway.

It could play out where Darnold and Walker are each given about four games to take control of the starting job, and if they don't Corral could step into the lineup for the second half of his rookie season.

If all three quarterbacks struggle, the Panthers should end up near the top of a 2023 draft, which features a more promising group of QB prospects, led by Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Alabama's Bryce Young.

Mayfield hasn't proved himself as a franchise quarterback, but he may have played well enough to push Carolina toward a .500 record. That would be just shy of the playoffs but not in a position to draft a high-end QB prospect—the worst place to end up.

So the Panthers can instead get a look at some other options and reassess the position next offseason. For now, head coach Matt Rhule is just excited about Corral's potential.

"He's got the quickest release we've seen in a quarterback in quite some time," Rhule said. "The fearlessness with which he plays with. ... He's just constantly working on his game. And so for a young, developmental quarterback, he's got all the physical tools. And he also seems to have the mental makeup."

Carolina may add a wide receiver during Day 3 of the draft on Saturday to give Corral and the other signal-callers another weapon for 2022.