The Carolina Panthers released quarterback Baker Mayfield after he struggled this season. Although the short-handed San Francisco 49ers lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending foot injury, all signs suggest they will not pursue Mayfield.
If Mayfield clears waivers, the former #1 pick in the NFL Draft will become a free agent. However, there are very few teams that would be interested in Mayfield. If that’s the case, and Mayfield’s future career as an NFL quarterback is in jeopardy after the Panthers cut him.
The Panthers are 4-8 this season and moved into third place in the NFC South ahead of the New Orleans Saints after the Saints lost to the first-place Tampa Bay Bucs (6-6) on Monday Night Football last night.
FiveThirtyEight projects the Panthers have an 8% chance of qualifying for the postseason if they can win the NFC South, which is regarded as the weakest division in the NFL this season.
The Panthers are +1000 odds to win the NFC South, according to DraftKings. They are long shots at +25000 odds to win Super Bowl LVII.
Browns Give Up on Heisman Winner and #1 Pick
It’s been a quick decline for Mayfield. He won the Heisman Trophy after a sensational senior season with the Oklahoma Sooners in 2017. The incoming draft class of 2018 was stacked with quarterback prospects which included Mayfield, Sam Darnold (USC), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), and Josh Allen (Wyoming). All five were selected in the first round.
The Browns selected Mayfield with the #1 pick. The New York Jets selected Darnold with the #3 pick. The Buffalo Bills wisely picked Allen with the seventh-overall pick. The Arizona Cardinals selected Rosen with #10. Although Jackson won the Heisman in the previous season in 2016, he was not selected until the final pick in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens.
The Browns secured the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after a horrendous 0-16 season in 2017. It took head coach Hue Jackson almost a month before he finally decided to start Mayfield.
Mayfield had his best year as a pro during his rookie season. He threw 27 touchdowns in 14 games, and broke a rookie record previously held by Peyton Manning.
Mayfield failed to live up to extreme expectations in Cleveland as the #1 pick, even though he played through numerous injuries. In the summer of 2022, the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson in a controversial and blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans.
Mayfield requested a trade, but very few teams expressed interest in Mayfield due to his pricey salary and the fact he was coming off surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.
In four seasons with the Browns, Mayfield posted a 29-30 record as a starter. In 60 games, he completed 61.6% of his passes for 14,125 yards. He threw 92 touchdowns and 58 interceptions.
Mayfield Experiment Failed in Carolina
The Browns traded Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional fifth-round draft pick. In the offseason, Carolina’s head coach Matt Rhule indicated that Mayfield would have to compete with Darnold for the starting quarterback job. The Panthers acquired Darnold the year before in a trade with the Jets.
Darnold injured his ankle in the preseason, so Mayfield won the starting job by default. Mayfield went 1-5 as a starter with the Panthers and finished one game in relief off the bench. In seven games, Mayfield completed 57.8% of his passes for 1,313 yards. He threw six touchdowns and six interceptions. He also recorded an anemic 18.3 QBR rating.
Mayfield suffered a sprained ankle in Week 5, and backup PJ Walker took over. The Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule, and interim head coach Steve Wilks decided to stick with Walker at quarterback even after Mayfield recovered from his injury. When Walker got sidelined with an ankle injury, Mayfield got his starting job for one game before Wilks decided to bench him in favor of a healthy Darnold.
Mayfield last played in Week 11 during a loss against the Baltimore Ravens. He threw zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and got sacked four times. The Panthers scored just three points in what could potentially be Mayfield’s final game as a pro.
49ers Not Keen on Mayfield
The 49ers lost two starting quarterbacks this season. Trey Lance broke his ankle in Week 2, and Garoppolo suffered a season ending-injury in Week 13. Rookie backup Brock Purdy came off the bench and led the 49ers to a victory against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The 49ers are sticking with Purdy, who was dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant” after getting picked dead last in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s a sad state of affairs when Mayfield, the former #1 pick in the draft, is being passed over in favor of a rookie who was selected last in the seventh round with pick #262.
I’ve always been a fan of Baker, but I feel really good about our players,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “We’ll look into everything, but I feel pretty good with where we’re at right now.”
Th 49ers signed Josh Johnson as a backup behind Purdy. Johnson is a true journeyman, who spent time with 14 different NFL teams. He had four stints with 49ers, including a last one in 2020. Johnson also played quarterback for the Los Angeles Wildcats in the XFL, the Sacramento Mountain Lions in the UFL, and the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football.
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