GM: Panthers to have ‘open competition’ between Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold

After the Carolina Panthers agreed to acquire quarterback Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns last week, most assumed that 2021 Week 1 Carolina starter Sam Darnold had essentially been replaced atop the depth chart. 

However, it was later reported that the Panthers have no intention of parting ways with Darnold and, instead, plan to hold a competition between overall picks No. 1 and No. 3 from the 2018 NFL Draft.

Both Mayfield and Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer spoke during Tuesday’s event meant to introduce the former Cleveland QB1 as a new Carolina player, and ESPN’s Mike Triplett notes that Fitterer insisted Mayfield and Darnold will participate in an “open competition” for the job during training camp and the preseason. 

“The reason why we added Baker was to make the group better as a whole,” Fitterer explained. “Sam is very much a part of this competition. … I think they’re both gonna rise and play their best football they have.”

Both Mayfield and Darnold are in the final years of their contracts. Fitterer said that extending Mayfield and/or trading Darnold hasn’t been discussed. 

“We’ll let it play out throughout the season and we’ll make decisions later in the season whether it’s November or December, once there’s a track record behind (Mayfield) in this offense and this organization. … I just want to take it short term for now,” Fitterer added during his comments. Meanwhile, Fitterer said that third-round draft pick Matt Corral will “learn at his own pace” behind the veterans. 

It is widely presumed the Pittsburgh Steelers are holding a quarterback “competition” in name only and are actually preparing to start Mitchell Trubisky over backup Mason Rudolph and first-round choice Kenny Pickett. Assuming Fitterer was being honest, Carolina fans should prepare themselves for a legitimate battle between Mayfield and Darnold this summer. 

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