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Sam Darnold Rumors: Panthers Have 'No Intention' of Trading QB After Mayfield Deal

Adam WellsJuly 6, 2022

Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The addition of Baker Mayfield doesn't mean the Carolina Panthers are looking to move on from Sam Darnold.

Per ESPN's David Newton, the Panthers have "no intention" of trading the 25-year-old quarterback.

Carolina announced on Wednesday it acquired Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2024.

Per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the Browns agreed to pay most of Mayfield's salary this season to help facilitate the deal:

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

More: The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> will pay Baker Mayfield $10.5 million this season, which means they trimmed over $8 million in cash and salary-cap space. The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a> will pay Mayfield ~$5 million. Mayfield agreed to trim ~$3.5 million off his base salary.

Rumors of Mayfield landing in Carolina have persisted for months, but now that the partnership has become a reality, it's natural to wonder what's next for Darnold.

The Panthers acquired Darnold from the New York Jets for three draft picks, including a 2022 second-rounder, in April 2021. They also picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, guaranteeing him $18.9 million in 2022.

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, had a rough first season in Carolina. He threw for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games (11 starts).

After this year's draft passed without Mayfield getting dealt, it seemed like Darnold was in prime position to enter 2022 as the Panthers' starting quarterback. They did trade up in the draft to select Mississippi's Matt Corral with the 94th overall pick.

Darnold's experience and familiarity with head coach Matt Rhule's system might have given him the inside track to at least start the 2022 season under center while Corral learned the offense.

Now, with Mayfield in the fold, Darnold could be the No. 2 quarterback in Week 1.

Mayfield, who was selected two picks ahead of Darnold in the 2018 draft, is looking to rebuild his value after an injury-marred 2021 in Cleveland. He had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered early in the season.

Despite the injury, Mayfield still finished with more passing yards (3,010) and passing touchdowns (17) in 14 games than Darnold did.

Given that both Mayfield and Darnold dealt with injuries last season, the Panthers are probably banking on needing some insurance around Corral in 2022. They are also hoping to improve after finishing last in the NFC South with a 5-12 record.

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