In case you missed it, the Carolina Panthers announced this week that newly-acquired quarterback Baker Mayfield will open the upcoming season as the team’s starting quarterback. And in case you didn’t know it, Baker and the Panthers will begin the 2022 campaign versus the Cleveland Browns, the 27-year-old’s former employer who shipped him to Carolina in July after it acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans via an offseason trade.
The decision was expected to go this way as the team has clearly given up on 2021 Week 1 starter, Sam Darnold. Just like they gave up on 2020 Week 1 starter, Teddy Bridgewater. In a quarterback-driven league, Carolina sure has given up on past first round draftees quarterbacks of late.
It was not all bad news for Darnold this week. The former No. 3 overall pick is still wanted by the franchise, but the starting quarterback role, at least for now, won’t be for him.
Instead, head coach Matt Rhule has decided to go with Mayfield. It’s a bit ironic because Mayfield was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the same draft Darnold was taken by the New York Jets.
Darnold can take solace that he will be getting paid like a starting quarterback. He will still be making $18.8 million dollars this season. And as he looks around the locker room, he knows he has the highest base salary on the team. In a salary cap league, it can’t be considered a positive that your highest paid player is not on the field.
I have always had the belief that being a backup quarterback in the NFL may be one of the best jobs in sports. Especially when your game check is the highest on the team.
Having that much money tied up at the quarterback position is not the model of how to win in the NFL. The money being spent to have Darnold don a baseball cap and hold a clipboard could be spent to strengthen other positions with needs.
I will go over those needs in the near future when I preview the Panthers’ upcoming season and the NFL season as a whole.