Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold to Split Panthers QB1 Reps for 'Immediate Future'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 28, 2022

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, left, looks to throw as quarterback Baker Mayfield looks on during the NFL football team's training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
AP Photo/Nell Redmond

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule told reporters on Thursday that veteran quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold would be splitting practice reps half-and-half "for the immediate future."

The Panthers traded for Mayfield this offseason after Darnold's disappointing 2021 campaign.

Rhule has maintained throughout July that, despite Mayfield's highly publicized acquisition this offseason, the quarterback position was still up for grabs.

"I want us to be a competitive team," he told reporters Wednesday. "I talk about competition all the time, meaning you gotta fight for what you want. Again, my job is not to pick the starting quarterback. I have to make that decision. It’s the guys' play. Russell Wilson, ya know, walked into a situation in Seattle with Matt Flynn, who had just had a guaranteed contract and Charlie Whitehurst, they just traded for, and he won the job. So I want competition. The best player will play."

Given that Mayfield has had the better career to this point after being the top overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft—Darnold was the No. 3 pick that year—he's expected to ultimately emerge as the frontrunner.

  • Mayfield: 14,125 passing yards, 92 touchdowns, 56 interceptions, 61.6 completion percentage, 30-30 record, one playoff berth
  • Darnold:, 10,624 passing yards, 54 touchdowns, 52 interceptions, 59.8 completion percentage, 17-33 record, zero playoff berths

Additionally, Darnold had his shot at the QB1 role last year and struggled immensely, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 59.9 percent of his passes. Teams generally don't trade for a quarterback if they are happy with their in-house options.

But however it plays out, Darnold told reporters on Tuesday that the competition isn't affecting the relationship between the quarterbacks.

"When things start rolling in training camp, it's just going to be fun to be able to compete and have fun with it," he said. "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 added that being able to collaborate and work with Darnold was a plus.

"It's unique because we’re all pretty young. Sam and I are the oldest ones in the room and we're only going into Year 5," he told reporters Wednesday. "So we're able to compete and kind of bounce ideas off of each other. Just the different systems that we've been in. Obviously, they're learning this one for the first time, too. So compare it, contrast and just come up with ideas to see the most efficient way to run things and get this team winning."