NFL Rumors: Panthers 'Love' Matt Corral's Talent; 'Door Is Open Slightly' to Be QB1

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 15, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) was up before the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Baylor Bears on January 1, 2022, at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers may reportedly give rookie quarterback Matt Corral a chance to win the starting job if they're unable to find a new veteran QB before training camp.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Sunday on SportsCenter that Sam Darnold remains the favorite to start for the Panthers but highlighted how it's still a fluid situation:

"The door is open slightly for [Corral] to potentially take the job because the Panthers are still essentially looking for veteran quarterback help. They would like somebody else—that's why the Baker Mayfield situation, Jimmy Garoppolo might not be completely dead at this point. And so it certainly seems [Darnold] is the favorite to start. They know Matt Corral is a bit of a project, a little like Malik Willis, because of the offense he came from in Ole Miss. He's going to need some time to learn the nuances of the NFL game, but they love the talent. So, he could at least make this interesting for sure."

Carolina was heavily linked to Mayfield leading up to the 2022 NFL draft last month, but the sides couldn't reach an agreement. The front office proceeded to select Corral in the third round to join Darnold and P.J. Walker.

The Browns have continued to struggle finding a trade partner for Mayfield, who's set to make $18.9 million in 2022, after they acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.

Cleveland is likely to drop its asking price and be willing to pay a large portion of Mayfield's contract as training camp draws near, which could bring him back into play for the Panthers.

CBS Sports' Josina Anderson reported the "door isn't 100 percent shut" on those talks, but Carolina is in no hurry to get something done.

If nothing ever materializes on that front, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Corral given at least the opportunity to compete for the top spot on the depth chart in camp.

The Ole Miss product is coming off a promising final year with the Rebels. He completed 67.9 percent of his throws for 3,349 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He added 633 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground.

While that dual-threat playmaking ability is exactly what teams are seeking at the position in the modern game, Corral is set to face a learning curve when it comes to reading defenses after a lot of single-read throws at Ole Miss.

The signal-caller said sliding to the third round provided some extra motivation.

"I mean, I had a chip on my shoulder before. But it just got even bigger," Corral told reporters Friday. "[Draft night] was for sure, a roller coaster. It was a bunch of mixed emotions. When I got that phone call, I have truly never been happy and sad at the same time. I've never felt that before."

Meanwhile, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that Darnold is the "No. 1 guy right now" but left a path for that to change.

"We're bringing in Matt Corral. P.J. Walker's already here. We'll see how it goes," Fitterer said. "He's in the lead right now, but until someone really owns that position, gives us an opportunity to win, it will always be up for grabs."

All told, the Panthers could still go a wide variety of different directions at the sport's most important position. Even if Corral doesn't win the job out of camp, he's a strong bet to make at least a few starts as a rookie so the team can judge his progress.