Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold will have open competition to start at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, general manager Scott Fitterer said Tuesday.
“This is an open competition. The reason we added Baker is to improve the group as a whole,” Fitterer said Tuesday at a press conference to introduce Mayfield, who was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last week.
Mayfield said on Tuesday he has embraced competition and said Darnold has already reached out to him and is looking forward to competing with his new teammate and challenging himself.
He said, like all NFL players, he never expected to be a backup and acknowledged Darnold had the same mentality. He said that ultimately, however, he will “fulfill any role expected of me and be a great leader and a great teammate.”
Mayfield agreed to take a $3.5 million pay cut to be traded to the Panthers, which he admitted “wasn’t easy.” Fitterer said the Panthers and Browns quickly agreed on draft compensation, but Mayfield’s contract was the biggest hurdle in trade talks, which began in the NFL Draft.
The Browns will receive a fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2024 in exchange for Mayfield. Fitterer confirmed that Mayfield needed to play 70% of the snaps for the draft pick to become a fourth round. The Panthers will pay $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary, while the Browns will pay $10.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Mayfield has agreed to convert the remainder of his $18.8 million salary into incentives to facilitate the deal, but may recoup that money depending on team performance, a source said.
Fitterer said the Panthers aren’t looking to trade Darnold and neither team has called about his availability. He said the trade for Mayfield was made with the “short term” in mind and talks of longer-term deals for Mayfield or Darnold won’t take place until later in the season.
Mayfield said Tuesday he would continue to wear No. 6 with the Panthers after reaching a deal with Panthers punter Johnny Hekker. He said “Six is special to me” because it was the number given to him when he was a walk-on at Texas Tech and “symbolizes his history”.
Mayfield said being traded by the Browns was “unexpected” but he has “no animosity” toward the organization, which “gave me the first four years of my career.” The Panthers host the Browns in Week 1 and Mayfield said this game would be “special”.
As for his advertising campaign with Progressive Insurance, that seems to be over after his trade with Carolina, as he will no longer be living at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Mayfield called it a “missed opportunity.”