Baker Mayfield was expected to be the savior of the Cleveland Browns after he was drafted No 1 in the 2018 NFL Draft. Like many college quarterbacks stars, the former Oklahoma Sooner had plenty of promise. But after four years in Cleveland, the Browns gave up on Mayfield, as the franchise traded for the legally troubled Dashaun Watson.
Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers after seeking an exit from Cleveland. There, the quarterback hoped for a fresh start. He didn’t get it, and now, he could be facing the end of an NFL career just four and a half seasons old.
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On Tuesday, December 6, Mayfield was waived by the Panthers, as the struggling quarterback started just six games and posted a record of 1-5 with the team. The Panthers are set for a rebuild, having already traded their best offensive player, Christian McCaffrey, to the San Francisco 49ers this season.
After waiving Mayfield, interim coach Steve Wilks stated, “this is a tough business.” He isn’t kidding, as Mayfield was once a player nearly every team wanted to draft. Following Carolina’s decision to waive him, he may be a player only XFL teams want to sign.
Carolina can still make the NFC Playoffs. The Panthers are 4-8 but just two games behind the 6-6 Tampa Buccaneers, who lead the NFC South. Wilkes is ready to play the rest of the NFL season with PJ Walker and Sam Darnold under center. Darnold is expected to be the starter going forward, but Walker could get a chance if he struggles.
According to Wilkes, the team and Mayfield agreed to part ways. Mayfield wanted his release from the team after learning he would become the Panthers’ backup quarterback rather than the starter.
Injuries to quarterbacks around the NFL could mean Mayfield lands with another team before the end of the regular season. San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson are injured. The former is done for the rest of the season, while the latter will return.
Mayfield was in the final year of his contract, worth $18 million. The Browns paid Mayfield around $9.5m, while the Panthers picked up another $5m. Mayfield’s total earnings thus far in 2022 were guaranteed.
How bad was Mayfield in Carolina? He ranked dead last in the NFL in total quarterback rating among qualified signal callers. Mayfield posted an 18.2 rating. The second-lowest rating was 29.2, which belonged to David Mills of the Houston Texans at the time Mayfield was waived.
According to reports, teammates did not expect Mayfield to be waived with just a few weeks of the regular season left to play. However, with the quarterback not happy to back up Darnold, a change was inevitable. Mayfield threw just six touchdown passes while completing 119 of 206 passes.