How Baker Mayfield can earn back his $3.5 million in incentives

USA TODAY Sports

When the Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield, the quarterback agreed to a $3.5 million pay cut to facilitate the deal.

But it was reported that Mayfield had a shot at earning the money back via incentives.

Via Field Yates of ESPN, we now know what those incentives are. And most of them seem unlikely to be realized.

Mayfield’s regular-season incentives mainly hinge on him playing 75 percent of the regular-season snaps. If he does and the Panthers reach 10 wins, he’ll receive $250,000. If the Panthers are also in the top five in the NFC or top 10 in the NFL in total offense, he’ll receive $300,000. If Carolina’s in the top five in the NFC or top 10 in the NFL in points scored, he’ll receive $300,000.

If Mayfield’s completion percentage — with a minimum of 224 attempts — is in the top five of the NFC or top 10 in the NFL, he’ll receive $300,000. He’ll also receive a $500,000 bonus for making the Pro Bowl.

Mayfield also has postseason team incentives for Mayfield, which also hinge on him playing at least 75 percent of the regular-season snaps plus 50 percent of each postseason game. If Carolina gets a divisional round win, Mayfield receives $500,000. If the team wins the NFC Championship, Mayfield receives $600,000. And if the Panthers win the Super Bowl, he’ll receive $750,000.

That means $1.85 million of Mayfield’s potential incentives are from postseason playing time and wins, which seem particularly unlikely to be accomplished — even in the weaker NFC.

But it’s not completely out of the question that Mayfield could complete a lot of passes and reach the Pro Bowl. But the Panthers would likely have to defy most of the external preseason expectations for that to happen.

19 responses to “How Baker Mayfield can earn back his $3.5 million in incentives

  1. If Mayfield could reach his incentive payfield, it could be a very good year for the team but can McCaffrey stay healthy ?

  2. Hopefully he saved his Progressive money. That was money he made before he accomplished a thing on the field.

  3. Really disappointed Baker took a pay cut. He only hurt himself for the long haul.

  4. 12brichandfamous says:
    July 19, 2022 at 5:24 pm
    Really disappointed Baker took a pay cut. He only hurt himself for the long haul.
    ——————
    I never understood the pay cut, either.

  5. Baker gets way too much news coverage to be so little of a needle-mover. this isn’t aaron rodgers wants out. he’s an average QB on an average to below average team, enough already

  6. He took the pay cut because he knew the value to his career in being in camp from the start. The Panthers had bargaining leverage and were willing to rise or fall with Darnold because they either found their guy or had a good draft pick in a QB rich draft. They focused off season on improving OL. Panthers learned their lesson after overpaying Bridgewater and Darnold and were building a team the right way. They got Baker for next to nothing because they could take him or leave him and no one else wanted him either.

  7. Baker did the right move in taking a pay cut but putting himself in a position to start. He is betting on himself.

    Unlike Florio’s favorite quarterback who blew an opportunity to start by refusing a salary restructure in 2016. Kaepernick had $11.9 Million guaranteed by the 49ers in 2016. The 49ers and Broncos had a deal worked out for a trade for Kaepernick (pre-kneeling) but Kaepernick refused to bet on himself by taking a deal for $7 million per year for 2016 and 2017 (guarantees not reported). Instead, he took the $11.9 million guaranteed and nothing more. The rest is history, but he likely cost himself millions in the NFL and maybe never would have kneeled.

  8. If he can win the starting job, and perform (big ifs), he will more than make up the money he lost. He bet on himself to earn his next contract as a starter. I’m not sold that he will win on this bet, but a case can be made.

  9. Unprofessional Development says:
    July 19, 2022 at 7:19 pm
    He took the pay cut because he knew the value to his career in being in camp from the start. The Panthers had bargaining leverage and were willing to rise or fall with Darnold because they either found their guy or had a good draft pick in a QB rich draft. They focused off season on improving OL. Panthers learned their lesson after overpaying Bridgewater and Darnold and were building a team the right way. They got Baker for next to nothing because they could take him or leave him and no one else wanted him either.

    Agree with all of the above. At least this way Baker can show a new, improved attitude and work hard to be the best he can be – which could result in a nice contract next year. Unfortunately, unless he can channel Tom Brady or Matt Stafford I don’t see Baker hitting most of his incentives in the first year on a new team and in a new system. He hasn’t even had the whole off season to learn plays, work with receivers, etc.

  10. He did not bet on himself, he played so bad the Browns gave record guaranteed money to a possible sexual Abuser. He got lucky the Panthers got nervous seeing what they had in Darnold and took the risk of ruining the locker room, there draft and there payroll. If you couldn’t do it with one of the best O-Lines, one of the best RB duo, and ODB and others I don’t see you having luck in Carolina. They can’t even keep McCaffery healthy.

  11. It’s sad to me that Mayfield, a guy who’s done nothing but show up and work hard for his team, gets nickeled and dimed while Watson, who quit on his team for a season and abused a couple dozen women, gets a mountain of money dumped on him and the team going out of its way to shape his contract around the suspension they knew was coming for his misconduct.

    Integrity in the league is dead.

  12. Relative to what his next contract could be, this year’s pay cut is small. If he shows himself to be a mid-level starter (say, the 12th to 20th best QB, not a Pro Bowl-type), he could be signing a $25 mil. per year contract (Top 10 QBs will be making $40 mil.+, with larger guarantees). We’re likely to see between seven and nine starting jobs open up for the 2023 season between retirements and unsatisfactory play, and that’s a large enough number that the best available free agent QB will get a sizable contract with a big chunk of guaranteed money (Remember Kirk Cousins?). Obviously, by being a little cheap with Mayfield, the Panthers ain’t getting a loyalty discount. It’s a QB merry-go-round down in Carolina–C. Newton, T. Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Mayfield, then Matt Corral for 2023? Five years, five new starting QBs. Not good.

  13. I would have included the full $3.5 million as a bonus that’s dependent solely on beating the Browns week 1. Throw some fuel on the fire, Carolina.

  14. In the scope of NFL starting QBs’ careers, $1.1M is not that much (yes, it’s a fortune to you and me). IF he starts and does well, he will more than make it up with next year’s contract. Had he refused the pay cut, he likely would still be a Brown and could very well end up not playing at all this year. In that scenario, his 2nd contract would not be lucrative (in NFL terms).
    If he does not play well, he lost the bet on himself, and he’ll probably get a back-up level contract in 2023.
    I’m pulling for him to do well in 2022.

  15. Just in: Baker Mayfield changed all the locks on his Cleveland home. The Browns are dumbfounded and cannot get in.

  16. Baker should have just forced Cleveland’s hand. Play him or cut him. He would have been able to showcase his talents on a team he knows, or he would have made more money.

    Easy Win Win.

  17. ocbroncomaniac says:
    July 19, 2022 at 8:02 pm
    Unlike Florio’s favorite quarterback who blew an opportunity to start by refusing a salary restructure in 2016. Kaepernick had $11.9 Million guaranteed by the 49ers in 2016.
    ________________

    Incorrect. Kaep had no guaranteed money left on his 49ers contract.

  18. lionsnati0n says:
    July 19, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    If you couldn’t do it with one of the best O-Lines, one of the best RB duo, and ODB and others I don’t see you having luck in Carolina. They can’t even keep McCaffery healthy.

    ====

    Couldn’t do it? He gave the Browns their first playoff win in 30 years, taking them to the divisional round. That’s as much as Watson ever accomplished, and Mayfield did it a year more recently.

    As for ODB, he’s such a difference-maker – he joined a team that had won the Super Bowl twice in the prior 5 years and then never managed a playoff win with them. He’s a bandwagoner.

  19. lionsnati0n says:
    July 19, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    If you couldn’t do it with one of the best O-Lines, one of the best RB duo, and ODB and others I don’t see you having luck in Carolina. They can’t even keep McCaffery healthy.
    ____________

    How exactly were the Panthers supposed to keep McCaffrey healthy? Wrap him in bubble wrap?

    If a team could find the magic elixir to keep everyone healthy we would have our next undefeated team.

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