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Carolina Panthers part ways with enigmatic Mayfield

The Mayfield experiment has ended, as the Carolina Panthers released quarterback Baker Mayfield on Monday after seven games with the team. Sam Darnold will start again this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Mayfield went 1-5 as the starter and was on target for career lows in every statistical category, including a 16.8 total QBR that ranked last in the league. The Panthers (4-8) are set to go with Sam Darnold and PJ Walker as their top quarterbacks for the rest of the season.

Why didn’t it work out for Mayfield in Carolina? You could say that the Panthers did not play to Mayfield's strengths like the Cleveland Browns did in 2020 when they committed to the running game earlier in the process. But even with a commitment to the run, the quarterback didn’t respond. Mayfield started the first five games, but only won one and that was against the Saints in Week 3.

Mayfield's best game was his very first one where he threw for a season high 235 yards, a touchdown and an interception with an 84.6 passer rating against the Browns. That game ended in a 26-24 loss.

It looked like all hope was lost after a high ankle sprain against the San Fransisco 49ers that opened the door for PJ Walker to start. But when Walker was injured in Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons, Mayfield's chances were back. He was 21 of 33 for 196 yards and had two interceptions in a 13-3 loss against the Baltimore Ravens. That sealed his fate.

Darnold still has a chance to be, so they cut bait and moved on from Mayfield. In seven games, he completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,313 yards, with six touchdowns and six interceptions, for a 74.4 rating.

Per CBS Sports, Mayfield will be a $1,349,445 waiver claim, and the Houston Texans will have first dibs at claiming in. It will be interesting to see where he goes. The Texans are an option, but so are the 49ers, who just lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a season ending foot injury. Either way, Mayfield is available, and looking for his next NFL home.

So, what are the Panthers quarterback options heading into 2023? Two words. The Draft. General manager Scott Fitterer says the best way to ensure long-term stability at quarterback, particularly from the financial side, is through the draft. They still have last year's third round pick, Matt Corral, who spent his rookie season on IR with an injury to his left foot. That said, the Panthers could bring back Darnold as a bridge quarterback as they develop a draft pick. They could also include Walker in those plans as well.

The Panthers next game is this Sunday, December 11th against quarterback Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks. Gametime is 1:00 pm ET at Lumen Field


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