Panthers name Baker Mayfield as starting quarterback for 2022 season

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In a move most everyone saw coming from the moment he became a Panther, Baker Mayfield has been named Carolina’s starting quarterback to open the 2022 season.

Head coach Matt Rhule announced his decision Monday.

“When we started this process, we were looking at three things,” Rhule said, via the team’s website. “No. 1, mastery of the offense, No. 2, situational football excellence, and No. 3, moving the ball and getting guys involved. That’s been our focus all along.

“Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.”

Cleveland traded Mayfield to Carolina in early July in exchange for a 2024 conditional fifth-round draft pick, officially ending his time with the Browns and giving the 27-year-old an opportunity to prove he could still be a viable starter in the NFL. Mayfield needed only to beat out Sam Darnold — a 2021 acquisition who fell short of expectations in his first year in Charlotte — for the starting job with the Panthers.

Mayfield had less than a month to learn Carolina’s offense, yet he apparently overcame those challenges to earn the position. He saw brief preseason action in Week 1, completing 4 of 7 passes for 45 yards before being replaced by Darnold. Evidently, his performance in that short stint and during all of training camp was enough to convince Rhule to proceed with Mayfield as his top quarterback. Darnold will serve as Mayfield’s backup, per Rhule.

“All along, we’ve felt like we need to have a really strong quarterback room, and have every quarterback ready to play,” Rhule said. “The reality of this league is most teams will play multiple quarterbacks. Sam has worked incredibly hard, played really well for us during training camp, and will be ready to go if and when it’s needed.”

Mayfield will see more work when he takes the field as Carolina’s starting quarterback in its third preseason game versus Buffalo, Rhule said. From there, Mayfield will prepare to take over as QB1 with his new team in what is a crucial season for his future in the NFL.

Carolina opens the 2022 season against Mayfield’s former team, the Browns, in Charlotte. We can guarantee plenty of eyes will be on Bank of America Stadium for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sept. 11.


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Nick Shook

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