Baker Mayfield Named Panthers' Starting QB over Sam Darnold for Week 1 vs. Browns

Erin WalshAugust 22, 2022

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have a new starting quarterback.

Baker Mayfield was named the team's starting quarterback for a Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns at Bank of America Stadium.

Carolina Panthers @Panthers

Confirmed ✅

Head coach Matt Rhule explained his decision Monday.

"When we started this process, we were looking at three things," Rhule said. "Number one, mastery of the offense, number two, situational football excellence, and number three, moving the ball and getting guys involved. That's been our focus all along.

"Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time."

Mayfield beat out Sam Darnold for Carolina's starting quarterback job in training camp. Both quarterbacks were given an ample amount of time to compete for the job before a decision was made.

That being said, the decision comes as no surprise as The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported on Aug. 17 that the team was expected to name Mayfield the starter.

The Panthers acquired Mayfield from the Browns on June 6 in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024. His addition made Carolina's quarterback room even deeper with both Darnold and 2022 draft pick Matt Corral on the roster.

It's no surprise the Panthers felt more comfortable with Mayfield as their starting quarterback for Week 1.

The Panthers acquired Darnold from the New York Jets ahead of the 2021 campaign in hopes he would be able to revive his career in Carolina. However, he did anything but that last season.

Darnold only appeared in 12 games because of a shoulder injury, but he didn't show any signs of improvement in those games. He went 4-8 and completed just 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

For comparison, Mayfield appeared in 14 games for the Browns last season, playing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, and played better than Darnold. He completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Mayfield, while inconsistent, is also more proven than Darnold, having led the Browns to the postseason during the 2020 campaign. In addition, he has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in each of his four NFL seasons, while Darnold has only accomplished the feat once.

That said, there's always the possibility that Darnold could start games this season. If Mayfield doesn't live up to expectations or suffers an injury, the former Jet will get the chance to show Matt Rhule what he's got.


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