Baker Mayfield can’t wait to get a shot at his former team when the Carolina Panthers host the Cleveland Browns to kick off the season.
The Browns sent Mayfield to the Panthers earlier this month after a long and drama-filled saga following the Browns’ trade for Deshaun Watson. Mayfield said he tries not to hold grudges but said he’s looking forward to facing — and knocking off — the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2018.
“I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you that’s not one I’ve marked on the calendar already,” Mayfield said in an interview posted July 12 on the Panthers’ team website. “One, that’s not who I am. To me, it’s about winning games. Whoever we have marked on the schedule, I’m going to try to win. Obviously, this one has a little more history and personal meaning, but for me, it’s about winning and setting the tone for the rest of the year, and however I can help this team do that, I’m going to do.”
Cleveland is a 1-point road favorite for September 11 matchup, per Odds Shark.
Mayfield on Paycut: ‘Sacrifice on All 3 Fronts’
The sticking point was Mayfield’s salary, which was set to be $18.8 million, but the sides found a creative solution. The Panthers will pay just $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary, while the Browns will pay $10.5 million, per ESPN. Mayfield converted the leftover $3.5 million into incentives, which he can earn during the season.
“There was a little bit of sacrifice on all three fronts, between Cleveland, Carolina, and myself,” Mayfield said. “To me, it’s ready for a fresh start first and foremost. I’m extremely grateful for the four years I had in Cleveland — it’s a great football town. It’s the start of my career, however long, God willing, it will be. I’m thankful for it.
“A lot of ups and downs, a lot of things I learned, but when it came down to it, it was wanting a fresh start, wanting to be with a coach and a GM that truly wanted me… and just wanting the same thing, and that’s to win football games. ”
Mayfield is in need of a bounce-back year after he completed 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. While Mayfield was inconsistent, at least part of it can be attributed to a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder he suffered while trying to make a tackle in Week 2 against the Texans.
He had surgery to repair the injury this offseason and will be a full participant when training camp rolls around. He said he’s hoping to get together with Sam Darnold and the team’s wide receivers before training camp begins.
Mayfield Looking Forward to QB Competition
Mayfield gets a fresh start in Carolina but the starting gig is not his yet, per David Newton of ESPN.
“The Panthers haven’t counted Darnold out. According to a league source, Mayfield hasn’t been handed over the keys to the offense. He’s just been given a duplicate set to compete with Darnold for the job,” Newton wrote on Wednesday, July 6.
“I want to be a starter, I want to be a franchise-level quarterback for years, and hopefully, it’s here in Charlotte,” Mayfield said. “But for me, it was about competing, getting to a place where the competition is going to make me get better. And I want a level playing field, and I want to elevate the guys around me and be the best version of myself. I know it’s not going to be easy by any means, I’ve got to go earn it, but I’m looking forward to the competition and the challenge.”
Considering Mayfield had extensive conversations with the Panthers before the trade went down, he has to think that he’s got the inside track on the starting role.