The Carolina Panthers say they’re still in the mix to add a veteran quarterback like Cleveland Browns gunslinger Baker Mayfield, despite taking Matt Corral in the NFL Draft last month.
The Panthers were thought to be out of the mix after adding Corral in the third round of the draft. However, head coach Matt Rhule is leaving the door open on adding another QB to the room that includes Sam Darnold and PJ Walker.
“We want to have a really strong quarterback room,” Rhule told reporters on Friday during rookie minicamp, “so I don’t think we would say no to a veteran at this point.”
The statement from Rhule slightly contradicts what general manager Scott Fitterer said after the draft, committing to the quarterbacks on his roster.
“We’re happy with the group we have,” Fitterer said. “I never put an absolute on anything. [But] we came into this weekend with the intention of getting a quarterback, and that’s what we did. And we’re going to go with this group.”
Baker Mayfield Coming Off Down Year
Josina Anderson of CBS Sports also added this week that the Panthers have not closed the door on a trade for Mayfield — the top pick in the 2018 draft who was displaced once the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson in March.
“My understanding is the door isn’t 100% shut on the Panthers and talks regarding Baker Mayfield, but I certainly received the impression that Carolina isn’t in any rush, nor are they pressed, per league source,” she tweeted on May 9. “They will roll as is, if need be, per league source.”
Last season Mayfield was banged up with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, which he had surgery on when the season ended. He ended up tossing just 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, slumping down the stretch as the team finished 8-9, missing the postseason
Trading Mayfield Only Option for Browns to Recoup Value
The sticking point in trade negotiations involving Mayfield have centered around his contract, which pays him nearly $19 million for next season. Many have been critical of how the Browns have handled the situation, leaving Mayfield basically in no man’s land.
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington pitched that the Browns should eat most — if not all — of Mayfield’s contract to at least recoup a draft pick in a deal. Unless an injury pops up, Cleveland has very little leverage to make a trade.
“The Browns have to get out of their own way,” Darlington said on The Rich Eisen Show. “They’re not going to keep him on the team. That’s a ridiculous notion that he could still be on the roster this season. I understand they owe him $19 million guaranteed no matter what. But if a team trades for him, they’re not paying that $19 million. The Browns have to pay for most of it and until their number comes down, they’re not going to make that move. They see no rush, no urgency since the draft is over but that’s still gotta be the next shoe to drop. To think that Baker is on your roster after all of this is just a ludicrous concept.”
The Mayfield situation has dragged on for the Browns and could continue to do so for some time. Training camps are set to start in late July, although a team could look to get him in sooner just to familiarize him with the playbook and teammates.