The Carolina Panthers hope to acquire Baker Mayfield, but a trade for the former No. 1 does not solve the teams’ quarterback problems.
Even if the black and blue land Mayfield, there is still Sam Darnold and his huge contract looming in the background.
Discussed earlier, Carolina wanted Mayfield by training camp, but that concluded June 16. Where both teams fall into a stalemate is just how much of Mayfield’s guaranteed $18.8 will each team pay. It is reported that Cleveland is willing to pay nine million or more to shed the disgruntled quarterback.
If Carolina jumps on this deal that still leaves the other half to pay for. There are a few things that do not follow in these reports like a proposed package, and what happens to Sam Darnold.
The first is a proposed package, and unless it involves Darnold, there is no way the money the Panthers owe its’ current QB goes away. Even if Darnold goes to Cleveland, which is unlikely, there is probably money that Carolina pays him in that large $18 million he is owed. First-round picks seem too much for Mayfield who is a free agent in 2023, so Carolina does not need to trade for him, and that may be best because it is possible the Panthers sign him in 2023. Remember, Carolina owns $25 million in free cap space.
Equally important, if Mayfield heads to Carolina, and Darnold is still here, this muddies up already murky waters even more. Then Carolina pays a portion of Mayfield’s salary while Darnold is owed $18 million and looks like the odd man out. There is not a win here at all because if Carolina cuts Darnold, then he is still owed the money. Darnold would be a hard player to trade, and it’d cost the Panthers dearly, whether in players or picks, and likely half of Darnold’s salary or more. It does not seem likely that Darnold could be traded to any team, especially with that contract, to where it benefits Carolina, even if it pays all the money Darnold while he plays for another team. Simply put, Darnold would be impossible to trade to another team unless he is sent to Cleveland for Mayfield himself. Even then paying Darnold any money of that contract while he is somewhere else is a loss for Carolina.
Another point is Mayfield, and Darnold are free agents in 2023. Again, Carolina owns $25 million in free space, so the Panthers could sign Mayfield and avoid giving up anything.
This option is not talked about nearly as much, but there is not a ton of harm in just riding Darnold this last year and signing Mayfield later.
Matt Corral waits in the wings too, so signing Mayfield may not mean a long-term deal with tons of money.
Bottom line is a Mayfield trade may answer one question, but it raises more for Carolina, and this hinders a young team significantly.
Nothing is worse than a team like the Panthers who own young players but are dysfunctional and lacking a purpose or identity.