A previous Denver Broncos trade surprisingly affected the Carolina Panthers’ trade negotiations for quarterback Baker Mayfield.
This was a dealbreaker for the Panthers per Klis, as the Panthers paid $7 million of Teddy Bridgewater’s salary when they traded him to the Broncos last offseason.
It is no surprise that the Bridgewater trade altered the Panthers’ willingness to take on Mayfield’s salary, as they did not want to be stuck paying another veteran quarterback. In addition, the Bridgewater trade reinforced a precedent for taking on a portion of the salary of an overpaid departing quarterback.
Carolina’s front office has invested heavily in the quarterback position in recent years with underwhelming results.
In 2020, they signed Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal in free agency. After a disappointing 5-11 season, they traded a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick for Sam Darnold and a sixth-round pick.
In addition, the Panthers exercised Darnold’s fifth-year option, which was worth $18.858 million.
Nevertheless, Mayfield is coming off arguably the worst year of his career. Last season, he had a PFF grade of 63.6, and he threw a career-low 17 passing touchdowns.
Given the Panthers’ recent history of quarterback fliers, they were rightfully hesitant to take on Mayfield’s entire base salary.
Eventually, the Browns gave in, and they traded Mayfield to the Panthers for a conditional fifth-round pick
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the Browns will pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary this season, while the Panthers will be responsible for $5 million.
ALL the latest Broncos news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Broncos newsletter here!
A Look Back at the Bridgewater Trade for the Broncos
In April 2021, the Broncos traded a sixth-round pick to the Panthers for Bridgewater. Looking back at the trade, it was not a great move, but it is a stretch to call it a terrible deal.
The Broncos only gave up a sixth-round pick, and they only had to pay Bridgewater $4.5 million. Last season, he started 14 games, and he threw for 3,052 yards, 18 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. With Bridgewater as the starting quarterback, the Broncos had a 7-7 record.
In retrospect, it would have been wiser to just take a flier on a young quarterback, but given the cost, the Bridgewater trade was a solid move.
Is This A Wise Move for the Panthers?
Is Mayfield an NFL quarterback? Absolutely. Is he worth a conditional fifth-round pick? Yes. Should the Panthers have traded for him? I’m not convinced.
The Panthers now have five quarterbacks on their roster: Mayfield, Darnold, Matt Corral, P.J. Walker, and Davis Cheek. As of today, Mayfield is their best option, but is he the future of the franchise?
In addition, the Panthers have a young quarterback with elite upside on their roster for the first time in years after drafting Corral, who was projected by many experts to be a first-round pick.
The Panthers have spent the last two years investing in veteran quarterbacks and hoping for a breakout year. So far, it has not worked out. It is odd to watch them go down that same path.
Why not just let Corral be the starter?
Mayfield should have more success in Carolina than Darnold or Bridgewater, but Corral gives the Panthers their best chance to grow into a legitimate contender.