Baker Mayfield is looking for a new NFL home, but the timing is suboptimal. As the 2022 NFL Draft approaches, most teams in dire need of a quarterback have already resolved that issue -- e.g., Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and Tom Brady unretiring swiftly for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- and that includes Mayfield's own team, the Cleveland Browns, who fully guaranteed a historic NFL contract to Deshaun Watson in a trade with the Houston Texans. That said, the Carolina Panthers aren't one of them, and they may want a word with the brass in Ohio.
The Panthers are reportedly interested in potentially making a trade with the Browns to acquire the former first-overall pick, per The Athletic, but it doesn't appear he's the only quarterback they're eyeing; although the last point could easily be viewed as the Panthers attempting to gain some sort of leverage in potential negotiations.
Still wildly unsettled at the position, the Panthers failed to woo Watson themselves in what became an NFC South showdown with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints to acquire him, and with Sam Darnold presumably being their QB1 for 2022 -- barring any plans on drafting a QB in the first round in Las Vegas. Currently, their only other option is P.J. Walker, but if head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer were even remotely interested in those two leading the charge in 2022, they wouldn't have gone all-in on trying to land Watson.
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And with Mayfield now displaced by Watson and the Browns also signing backups Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs, the Panthers can and reportedly have turned their attention to him. Mayfield, 27, presumably still has a long NFL career ahead of him, albeit no longer in Cleveland, and he's shown an ability to win games in the NFL as a much higher efficiency rate than Darnold and Walker (the latter having only two career NFL games to his name) ever have.
For perspective, Mayfield has a win-loss record at the professional level of 29-30, while the last two have amassed a combined career record of just 19-32. So while Mayfield does have his warts, it doesn't equate to the ones present in Charlotte at the moment, and his struggles in 2021 can be easily attributed to his unwillingness to shut himself down to repair a degrading shoulder injury.
Now fully healthy, it stands to reason he might be an asset in the right situation for the right team, and the Panthers are considering themselves as an option to be just that for him; but they should consider the fact Mayfield has strong interest in the Seattle Seahawks [as well, if not more so]. The Seahawks recently acquired former second-round pick Drew Lock in the Wilson trade to the Broncos, and while they're publicly standing firm on Lock, this NFL offseason has proven anything is possible -- including imagining a scenario wherein Mayfield lands in Seattle and Lock finds his way the Panthers.
Unlikely, maybe, but possible. However you slice it, though, Mayfield's time with the Browns is over, and the clock is ticking on news of where he'll suit up for 2022.