Baker Mayfield Reportedly Expected to Be Named Panthers Starting QB Over Sam Darnold

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Baker Mayfield will have a chance to defeat his former team in Week 1.

According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Mayfield is expected to be named the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers over Sam Darnold. That means he will be under center when the Panthers host the Cleveland Browns for their season opener.

Carolina acquired Mayfield from the Browns via trade in July and sent the AFC North team a conditional draft pick.

The move came one offseason after the Panthers traded for Darnold, who was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft. He failed to live up to expectations during his first three seasons on the New York Jets, and it was more of the same during his first year in Carolina.

Darnold was 4-7 as a starter and had nine touchdown passes to 13 interceptions.

Enter Mayfield, who just so happened to be the No. 1 overall pick in the same draft that New York selected Darnold. He seemed to be on a much better trajectory than his now backup, with 3,725 passing yards, 27 touchdown throws and 14 interceptions as a rookie, although he threw 21 picks in his second season.

Mayfield's tenure with the Browns was filled with ups and downs.

He struggled with turnovers, throwing 56 interceptions in 60 appearances. Yet there was also a playoff appearance in 2020, which was the franchise's first since the 2002 campaign. That playoff season was his best individual effort, as he completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Then the 2021 campaign largely derailed that momentum.

Cleveland went 8-9 and missed the postseason, Mayfield dealt with injury concerns on his way to 17 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, and Odell Beckham Jr.'s father made headlines when he posted a video of the quarterback missing his son with throws.

Beckham ended up winning a Super Bowl for the Los Angeles Rams, and Mayfield was traded to the Panthers after the Browns decided to acquire Deshaun Watson and reward him with a five-year contract.

Now Mayfield has an opportunity to bounce back in a different uniform, and the journey will start against a familiar team.