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Sam Darnold Says He, Baker Mayfield Are 'Really Cool' amid Panthers QB Competition

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 26, 2022

AP Photo/Nell Redmond

Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold may be battling for the Carolina Panthers' starting quarterback role, but Darnold says the competition doesn't affect their relationship off the field.

"When things start rolling in training camp, it's just going to be fun to be able to compete and have fun with it," Darnold told reporters Tuesday. "At the end of the day, this is a business and we both take our craft and what we do very seriously. So it's going to be serious when that time comes to compete, but off the field and all of that stuff, me and Baker are really cool."

Mayfield is the favorite to win the starting job after the Panthers traded for him July 6. They wouldn't have made that move if they felt confident in Darnold's ability to hold down the starting gig.

Darnold addressed the trade Tuesday:

"That's not really my job to try to understand or evaluate why [the trade was made]. For me it's about competing. At the end of the day, we all want to win as Panthers. We're all on the same team. And they're going to do whatever they feel like it's best for the team to win ball games this year.

"If that's bringing in Baker and me competing with him and us competing with each other to battle it out for the starting job, that's the best thing for the team."

Darin Gantt @daringantt

DJ Moore has known Mayfield and Darnold since the pre-draft process, said it’s not surprising they worked out together, they won’t let competition complicate their friendship. <a href="https://t.co/iGt277qOlW">pic.twitter.com/iGt277qOlW</a>

Darin Gantt @daringantt

Rhule said Darnold has been an "ultimate team guy" in regards to the acquisition of Baker Mayfield. Loves how he's worked this offseason and looks forward to the competition.<br><br>They've worked out together here in Charlotte before camp.

Darin Gantt @daringantt

Asked about his thoughts on the QB position with Darnold and Mayfield, Rhule says the players will dictate it, and the competition will dictate who starts.

Will Kunkel @WillKunkelFOX

Matt Rhule says he will talk to Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold to determine the rep counts before telling us beforehand. <br><br>Rhule doesn't want them to find out via the media.

Mayfield has had the better career, though Darnold's early years with the cellar-dweller New York Jets deserve mention. Here's how their career stats match up after each was selected within the first three picks of the 2018 NFL draft:

  • Mayfield: 29-30 record, 14,125 passing yards, 92 touchdowns, 56 interceptions, 61.6 completion percentage, one playoff berth
  • Darnold: 17-32 record, 10,624 passing yards, 54 touchdowns, 52 interceptions, 59.8 completion percentage, zero playoff berths

Darnold went 4-7 as the Panthers starter last season, including a 3-0 start before things fell apart. A shoulder injury cost him time midway through the season, and the Panthers were 5-5 after P.J. Walker led them to a win in relief duty before they lost seven straight games to close the year.

That prompted the offseason addition of Mayfield to help solidify the quarterback position, though Darnold won't give up the job without a fight.

"We're both in our eyes the starting quarterback for this team right now,'' Darnold said. "And that's how we're both going to view it. So it's just about going out there and competing, and that will be fun."

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