First of all, I wanted to give a shoutout to Joe Rossi's Instagram account (@yetistalker) for letting me use his design on this article. If you want to check out his work, feel free to reach out to him. He's a really chill dude in the few interactions I've had with him so far!
Last Wednesday, the Panthers acquired Browns former 1st round pick Baker Mayfield in a trade that sent a conditional 5th round pick (could turn into 4th rounder if he plays 70% of offensive snaps) to Cleveland, who will foot about $10.5 million of the young gunslinger's 2022 base salary. Carolina will be paying around $5 million in base salary, allowing Mayfield to earn back $3.5 million in incentives that he lost when taking a pay cut for this season. This season seems to be a career crossroad for the Heisman trophy winner, and no better way to prove himself than to take down his former team in the Browns Week One.
Assuming the fiery passer convincingly steals the starting job from incumbent Sam Darnold (and fellow 2018 draftee), Baker's revenge game should make for one of the juicier NFL headlines entering the regular season. The Texas native admitted there would be some extra energy heading into this game, but assured fans that he holds "no animosity towards Cleveland." He elaborated further in a recent press conference, saying:
"I'm extremely grateful for the four years I had in Cleveland, it's a great football town. It's the start of my career, however long, God willing, it will be. I'm thankful for it."
The most recent updates on the Deshaun Watson situation indicate that the NFL could suspend the former Texan anywhere from 4 games to an entire season. Regardless, it is extremely unlikely that Watson will take a snap in the first game, with Jacoby Brissett as the penciled-in QB2 for Week 1 unless they make a move for someone else by then. If Baker can remain levelheaded and focused on the task at hand, Carolina could find themselves 1-0 on Sunday evening.
What are your thoughts on the Mayfield trade? Do you think he wins the starting job? Let me know in the comment section below.
Organization, and ImageObject. “Baker Mayfield Ready for ‘Fresh Start’ with Panthers.”
Panthers Home, 6 July 2022, https://www.panthers.com/news/baker-