Baker Mayfield traded to Panthers: Winners, losers in deal that sends former No. 1 pick to Carolina

There’s a new quarterback in Carolina. On Wednesday, the Panthers acquired former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones Confirms. Carolina will send a conditional fifth-round pick to the Browns that can turn into a fourth depending on Mayfield’s playing time.

Although this trade is simply between two teams, it will have a domino effect that will extend far beyond Cleveland and Carolina. Below, we’ll cover all of the winners and losers that came out of the latest trade in the NFL.

Winner: Baker Mayfield


The ultimate winner in all of this is Baker Mayfield. He previously requested a trade to Cleveland when the team landed Deshaun Watson earlier this offseason and now he’s getting his wish. For a minute he seemed like there was a possibility (however slim) where the Browns wouldn’t trade Mayfield and hope they’ll mend the fence in case Watson receives a massive suspension for his off-field issues. However, this deal now eliminates the possibility of an awkward/forced reconciliation.

Not only does Mayfield come out of Cleveland, but he also lands with a Panthers team that has some intriguing weaponry, including running back Christian McCaffrey and wide DJ Moore, to go along with a strong offensive line that includes the 2022 first-round pick. Ikem Ekwonu at left tackle.

Financially, Mayfield has agreed to take a $3.5 million cut from his base salary to facilitate this trade, but he can recoup that money in the form of incentives, according to the NFL Network. So Mayfield finds himself out of Cleveland and in a position where he’ll be the Week 1 starter without having to take a lot of financial risk. It’s a win all the way for the former first overall pick.

Loser: Cleveland Browns

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Browns’ situation under center. The NFL was pushing for Watson to face an indefinite suspension of at least one season. If Disciplinary Officer Sue. L. Robinson reigns this way, Cleveland’s cap at quarterback will drop significantly. With Mayfield gone, Jacoby Brissett would be the clear option to start if Watson is suspended. While it may have been an uphill battle trying to come to terms with Mayfield, he has experience attacking Kevin Stefanski and would be the better option of the two to keep the Browns competitive in the absence of Watson.

Meanwhile, a fifth-round pick that could turn into a fourth isn’t a shocking comeback. The Browns also reportedly paid most of Mayfield’s contract for 2022. According to the NFL NetworkCleveland is paying $10.5 million from Mayfield’s deal, while the Panthers will pay him $5 million.

Despite clearing some cap space and getting rid of a player who requested a trade, Cleveland is currently very exposed if the hammer is dropped on Watson over the next few days/weeks.

Winner: Carolina Panthers

The Panthers improved at quarterback and it didn’t cost much to do so. As we noted above, the Browns are paying the bulk of Mayfield’s contract, and Carolina only had to send a conditional fifth-rounder for the former No. 1 overall pick.

Although Mayfield has had its ups and downs throughout his four-year career, he is arguably the best quarterback the Panthers have brought in since Cam Newton’s first stint with the team ended after the season. 2019. Mayfield and Sam Darnold – the club’s 2021 starter – entered the league in 2018, but Mayfield has enjoyed more success. For their career, Mayfield’s 87.8 passer rating is much better than Darnold’s 76.9 passer rating. With this increase in talent, Mayfield’s presence should improve Carolina’s overall offensive ceiling.

Again, improving to the most important position in the sport and doing so at such a low cost makes it an obvious move for the Panthers.

The underrated element of this deal is the impact it will have on the NFL and especially the NFC West.

The Seattle Seahawks were one of the teams identified as a potential landing spot for Mayfield after he traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos earlier this offseason. Currently, Drew Lock and Geno Smith are expected to battle for the starting job at camp, but Mayfield would be a much better option than either of those two in 2022.


Since Seattle may have to come into the season with Lock or Smith, another loser in all of this is Jimmy Garoppolo. He and Mayfield were the two remaining quarterbacks to move, and Carolina seemed like the most logical landing spot for Garoppolo, simply because the only other destination for the 49ers quarterback was Seattle. Would San Francisco be willing to trade Garoppolo within the division just to compete with him twice a year? Even if the Niners were willing to have the conversation, the asking price for Garoppolo would likely be increased as it would be an intra-divisional trade.

So, Mayfield’s touchdown in Carolina is truly the worst possible outcome for these two teams. Garoppolo loses what would have been the clearest path to start in 2022 and Seattle misses improving at quarterback at a relatively cheap cost.

Winner: Jacoby Brissett


As Mayfield heads to Carolina, Jacoby Brissett is in line to start for the Browns if/when Watson is suspended. It gives Brissett another opportunity to show off his skills for what could be up to a full season. The 29-year-old signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Browns this offseason and if he plays well in 2022 for as long as he’s the starter, that could lead to a more robust market. next year and get paid like one. of the best substitutes in the league.

Brissett has 37 starts in his six-year NFL career and has a career completion percentage of 60.2 and a passer rating of 83.

Loser: Sam Darnold


Unless the Panthers turn around and trade Darnold to the Seahawks and he wins that job, this move almost certainly guarantees that Darnold won’t be a starting quarterback in 2022. At the very least, it looks like he be one and made like the starter in Carolina after going 4-7 in his 11 starts for the Panthers in 2021.

After igniting in New York, Darnold was traded to the Panthers last offseason and there was hope the former first-round pick could rebuild his position in the league with the change of scenery. However, after a campaign where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and completed just 59.8% of his passes, that never materialized.

Now the question is whether Darnold will be considered a starting quarterback again.

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