Will it be Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold as the starter in Carolina?

USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers presumably wouldn’t have traded for quarterback Baker Mayfield if they believed in quarterback Sam Darnold. But now that they have both quarterbacks on the roster, and given that the starting job supposedly will be an “open competition,” which guy will emerge as QB1?

Former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, who works an analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts, believes that Darnold has the “upper hand.” That’s what Delhomme recently told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio.

Delhomme bases his opinion on the fact that Darnold had the benefit of the offseason program to learn offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system. Darnold also knows the players. He knows how the receivers make their breaks.

That all makes sense. But, again, the Panthers wouldn’t have traded for Mayfield if they believed in Darnold.

Of course, there’s a chance that the Panthers simply view Mayfield as a buy-low situation. They got him for $5 million and a fifth-round pick in 2024. It’s a bargain. It’s an opportunity to get the thing that owner David Tepper so obviously covets — a franchise quarterback.

Here’s the real question. Will the competition in any way be rigged? Will a close call go to Mayfield, especially with the Browns coming to town in Week One? To win the job, will Darnold have to win it convincingly?

It could be a delicate issue for the Panthers and Mayfield. Sure, everything is fine and dandy right now. If Mayfield doesn’t become the starter, he likely will disagree with the decision. If so, will he become the behind-the-scenes problem that the Browns deemed him to be?

In 2021, Carson Wentz found a safe harbor in Indianapolis after the Eagles moved on. Wentz was able to tell himself, “It was them, not me.” (He has since learned otherwise.)

In 2022, will Mayfield arrive in Carolina taking partial ownership for how things went in Cleveland, or will he blame it on the team and the team alone? The answer to that question could go a long way toward determining whether he’s on his way to becoming the adult that the Browns didn’t think he was. Whenever he encounters with the Panthers (and encounter adversity he will), he and everyone else will find out.

18 responses to “Will it be Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold as the starter in Carolina?

  1. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. What a competition. Whichever wins-loses & whichever loses-wins.

    Sad state of affairs in Charlotte.

  2. They’ll get better ratings if Baker starts wk1 against the Browns. It will happen.

  3. Here’s the real question. Will the competition in any way be rigged? Will a close call go to Mayfield, especially with the Browns coming to town in Week One?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Well if it is a close call, they need to make a decision somehow. The only way it would be rigged is if there really isn’t a competition – and the qb that plays the worst is given the job. If its close, they could flip a coin, select Darnold since he was there longer and is getting paid more, or give it to Mayfield, with the assumption that his play will improve the longer he is in the system.

  4. They can start Darnold week one. Then if he struggles, which he probably will, then can bring Baker in for week 2. Baker has a lower floor so he’s the guy you probably want to take you through the bulk of the season even if neither of them ultimately pan out for the future.

  5. At this point Darnold is who he is. Last year he had a passer rating of 72. The year before in New York he had a passer rating of 72. He had almost identical stats. He’s not a franchise QB. Mayfield played injured last year for a qb rating of 83. Whatever stats you look at, Mayfield’s a better QB, even if it’s still up in the air if he’s a franchise QB. But CAR got him at a good price, especially considering what they paid last season for Darnold. Mayfield’s the starter.

  6. The Browns are the Browns!How many head coaches and OC’s did Mayfield have during his 4 years with the Browns? If Mayfield becomes the starter and I think this is most likely, we will find out if it was Mayfield, the Browns or a combo.

  7. Both QBs will look mediocre playing behind that offensive line. Sam Darnold’s athleticism will give an advantage in the begin until he gets dinged up.

  8. We have already seen Darnold’s floor with the Jets. Baker’s floor is much lower than we have seen behind a great O-line with a top 5 run game. Baker’s floor is coming to a field near you in 2022.

  9. Mayfeild had better win that job. If he doesn’t or he bombs in his starts, his career might be over.

  10. If Baker can’t beat out Darnold, he should quit. Darnold stinks out loud. He couldn’t start for a good college team.

  11. A healthy Mayfield earns the starting role. There’s no way he doesn’t start the week one game against the Browns.

  12. Outside of his magnificent hedge fund, everything Tepper does in Carolina has the “Midas touch” – it turns into mufflers. Mayfield will continue that trend.

  13. Just let me know when Corral is ready to play, I already know what the others bring to the table.

  14. To the new Baker fans he will have his big games and win a few but he hasn’t been clutch when given the ball with the game on the line. 2-9 record

    Baltimore in 2018 loss 26-24 (int)

    LA Rams in 2019 loss 20-13 (int)

    Denver in 2019 loss 24-19 (downs)

    Buffalo in 2019 won 19-16 (td to Higgins)

    Pittsburgh in 2019 loss 20-13 (int)

    Cincinnati in 2020 won 37-34 (td to DPJ)

    KC in 2021 loss 33-29 (int)

    LAC in 2021 loss 47-42 (downs)

    Pittsburgh in 2021 loss 15-10 (int)

    Baltimore in 2021 loss 16-10 (downs)

    Green Bay in 2021 loss 24-22 (int)

    Even when a TD was needed in the Rose Bowl vs Georgia to win and go to the national championship game he couldn’t carry his team.

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