The Carolina Panthers have been firmly in the mix for Mayfield and recent comments from head coach Matt Rhule point to his squad being interested in adding the former top overall pick.
“At any position, if we can make a significant improvement, we absolutely should,” Rhule told reporters as the Panthers wrapped up minicamp on Thursday, June 16. “But we can also make a lot of improvements by our guys playing better this year than they have in the past, and I like where he’s headed.”
Darnold passed for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games with the Panthers last season as the team finished 5-12. The consensus opinion is that Mayfield — who helped the Browns to the playoffs during the 2020-21 season — would be an upgrade over Darnold.
Mayfield completed 60.5% of his passes last season for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He had surgery on a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder this offseason but is expected to be ready to roll for training camp.
While Rhule has sounded open to upgrading the QB position, he also commended Darnold for some offseason improvement.
“Sam’s gotten a lot better,” Rhule said. “Really, really improving in the offense and if we played today, Sam would be our quarterback.”
Panthers Want to Make Move Soon for Mayfield: Report
The Panthers have an added sense of urgency to their pursuit of Mayfield with minicamp now over. They hope to get Mayfield in the building and with a playbook by the time training camp rolls around in late July. Per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports:
“Trade talks between the teams continue surrounding QB Baker Mayfield, per sources. The main issue remains Mayfield’s salary and how much (or how little) teams pay,” Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports tweeted on Tuesday, June 15. “There’s urgency on Carolina’s side to execute the deal soon so Mayfield can get some time in minicamp with the Panthers. For the Browns, it’s the best offer they have. Talks ongoing.”
The issue around getting a deal done has been Mayfield’s near $19 million salary for next season, which is the result of his fifth-year option being picked up by the Browns last offseason. With Carolina already paying Darnold the same figure, taking on Mayfield at his full salary is extremely unlikely.
Browns Confident in Quarterback Situation Without Mayfield
Mayfield’s future remains in limbo without a viable trade partner, but so does the Browns’ quarterback situation as they wait to hear about the impending suspension of Deshaun Watson, who is facing 24 active civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions.
If Watson is unable to go, it’ll be veteran Jacoby Brissett running the show under center for the Browns. Joshua Dobbs would function as the backup to Brissett.
“I do have confidence in Jacoby. He has played a lot of football for a young player. He is a smart player. He takes care of the football,” Stefanski said at the start of minicamp. “Good size, can make all of the throws and those type of things. He has been in multiple offenses. Our offense is a little bit different than what he has done previously but has a really, really good understanding of football – football intelligence that is – so I just think he is a really good operator.”
In six seasons, Brissett has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.