Sam Darnold had something of a rough year with the Carolina Panthers in 2021-22. The expectation was that the front office would go out and get another quarterback during the offseason – and that is precisely what they did.
In addition to drafting Ole Miss standout Matt Corral in the third round of this year’s draft, the Panthers also acquired Baker Mayfield via trade from the Cleveland Browns.
Whereas Corral is still too green to truly compete for the starting quarterback spot, Mayfield came in with the expectation of leading the offense in 2022-23.
This week, Darnold offered his blunt reaction to Carolina’s trade for Mayfield.
“It’s always fun to compete and to be able to have someone to compete with,” Darold said. “At the same time, in our eyes, we’re both the starting quarterback for this team right now, and that’s how we’re going to view it.”
As far as Darnold is concerned, Mayfield’s acquisition will simply motivate him to do better.
“Any time you bring someone of Baker’s competitive level — the way he competes out there on Sundays, and not only on Sundays but also on the practice field — it can only help the room, and it can only help our team,” he added.
And for Darnold, there is no bad blood there.
“Me and Baker are cool,” he said. “We’re going to be able to compete and have fun with it. But 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 very serious when it’s time to compete. But off the field and all that stuff, me and Baker are really cool.”
Last season Darnold threw for nine touchdowns and more than 2,500 yards. The speed with which he was benched was telling. Mayfield, meanwhile, in a terrible injury-plagued campaign amassed 17 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards.
There’s a reason the Panthers made this move – and the stats bear it out pretty clearly.
But at the end of the day, he is also objectively the superior quarterback out of everyone currently competing to be QB1 on the Panthers’ roster.
Klay doesn’t miss. https://t.co/x5Znq9JhfS
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 27, 2022
Will Mayfield be able to win the starting quarterback job and lead Carolina to some semblance of respectability in 2022-23?
Time will tell.