Panthers officially name Baker Mayfield starting quarterback as regular season nears

After coming over from the Browns in a trade, Baker Mayfield is officially the Panthers’ starting quarterback.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) directs his team during the first half an NFL...
Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) directs his team during the first half an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Commanders, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon | AP)
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 12:02 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As training camp nears its end and the 2022 NFL regular season creeps ever closer, the Carolina Panthers have officially named their starting quarterback.

On Monday, the team announced that Baker Mayfield will be the team’s starter moving forward.

Mayfield was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns on July 6, and had been competing with incumbent starter Sam Darnold throughout training camp and during the preseason.

Carolina has been searching for answers at the quarterback position for several years now, as the team has seen the likes of Darnold, Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater and a past-his-prime Cam Newton spend significant time under center during recent seasons.

Mayfield was the top-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and while he didn’t firmly establish himself as a franchise player in Cleveland, he showed plenty of promise and a passion for winning.

Related: Panthers fall to Patriots on the road after committing four turnovers in shaky offensive performance

He is coming off of a down season where he struggled statistically while battling a partially-torn labrum for much of the year, passing for just over 3,000 yards and only 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions.

The Panthers, who gave up only a conditional fourth or fifth-round pick to acquire the quarterback’s services, are hoping that he can return to form now that he’s back at full health.

Mayfield played well as a rookie in 2018 after taking over for Tyrod Taylor, leading the previously-hapless Browns to a 6-7 record in 13 starts and passing for a then rookie-record 27 touchdowns.

He fell into a bit of a sophomore slump in 2019 before posting his best season in 2020, when he led the Browns to their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades.

The 27-year-old has been a player who has seemingly always played with a chip on his shoulder, dating back to his college days when he walked-on at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma. After being passed over for one Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech, he led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff and won the Heisman Trophy as senior.

Now on his second NFL team going into his fifth year, the 2022 season is a major point in the young quarterback’s career. Mayfield is out of contract at the season’s end, as this could be one of his final opportunities to entrench himself as a starting-caliber player in the league.

The Panthers should offer Mayfield plenty of offensive help with the likes of DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey, and with Robbie Anderson also looking to rebound.

Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer made the offensive line a focal point during the offseason after ranking near the top of the league in sacks allowed in 2021. To address it, they selected NC State product Ikem Ekwonu with the sixth-overall pick in this year’s draft, and signed interior offensive linemen Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett.

Second-year man Brady Christensen also figures to play a larger role in the Panthers offense this season.

With Mayfield now officially the starter, the Panthers have one last tune-up game this coming Friday before the regular season kicks off on Sept. 11 against Mayfield’s former employers, the Cleveland Browns.

Related: Carolina Panthers trade for Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield