Three weeks before his team’s regular-season opener, Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule officially named Baker Mayfield his starting quarterback for Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.
The Panthers moved on from Teddy Bridgewater during the 2021 offseason and traded for New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. After Darnold had a rough 2021 season, they traded for Mayfield in July, sending the Browns a conditional fifth-round pick in 2023.
Mayfield’s performance on the field showed why the Panthers’ decision to trade for him was a good one. Not only does he have arguably the most talent of any quarterback in the Panthers’ quarterback room, but he has also played the position better than the rest of his counterparts in recent seasons.
Over the weekend, former NFL coach Marty Mornhinweg and other experts from The 33rd Team said Mayfield should be the starter, a sentiment Brett Favre echoed on Monday after the Panthers announced the decision.
“Does he give you a chance to win each and every week? I believe Baker does that,” Favre said. “I think he’s a heckuva competitor. I don’t know what it’s like in the locker room or in the huddle with him, so it would be unfair for me to say, but I assume the guys rally around him because historically that’s been the case with him. Guys go to bat for him. Guys play their tails off for him.”
Mayfield had a bitter end with the Browns, who made him the first overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft. Throughout his four seasons in Cleveland, he led the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades, their first win in modern franchise history (since 1999) and was four points away from making it to the AFC championship game.
His tenure there was strenuous, as he went through three head coaches and four play-callers, and he played his final season in 2021 with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. After being the most successful quarterback the franchise had since Bernie Kosar, the Browns were quick to replace him by trading for Deshaun Watson just before the NFL Draft.
With the Panthers, he gets a chance to revitalize his career with a group of young weapons led by running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore.
Tyler Forness contributed to this report.