The Carolina Panthers are still being linked to Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, but the rumors don't appear to be rattling Sam Darnold, who noted Wednesday that general manager Scott Fitterer is going to do what's best for the team in all situations.
"I think no matter what they're always gonna do what's best for the team," Darnold told reporters (10:54). "And so with that being said, whether that's Scott going out and getting someone who he feels like can do a better job, you know, that's not for me to judge. ... I’ve gotta hold up my end of the bargain. If I’m the starting quarterback for this team, I’ve gotta go out and play good football."
Darnold's comments come after Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reported Tuesday that the Panthers and Browns have continued to have discussions about a trade for Mayfield but that the quarterback's salary remains an issue.
Mayfield is set to play the 2022 season on his $18.8 million fifth-year option before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
The Browns are looking to trade Mayfield after acquiring Deshaun Watson in a deal with the Houston Texans in March. Cleveland gave Watson a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract, signaling that it will move on from Mayfield regardless after the 2022 campaign.
However, Watson's status for the upcoming season remains up in the air as the NFL continues to investigate numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against him.
As for the Panthers, they've been in the quarterback market since the 2021 season ended. Carolina acquired Darnold from the New York Jets ahead of the 2021 campaign began, but he didn't live up to the team's expectations.
Darnold appeared in just 12 games due to numerous injuries, completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards and nine touchdowns against 13 interceptions. It was a continuation of what has been a disappointing career for the 2018 third overall pick.
While Darnold appears set to enter the 2022 season as Carolina's starting quarterback, the Panthers also selected Matt Corral in the 2022 NFL Draft, hoping that he can be their quarterback of the future.
If all else fails, Mayfield wouldn't be a terrible option for the upcoming campaign. The 2018 first overall pick struggled with a shoulder injury throughout the 2021 season and still managed to complete 60.5 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
That said, Mayfield will need to prove himself and be more consistent in 2022 if he has hopes of being a starter in 2023 and beyond, whether that be in Carolina or elsewhere.