In July, the Carolina Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns. In December, the Panthers released him with four games left in the season. 2022 was undoubtedly a disappointing season for the 2018 #1 overall pick. And with him on waivers, one has to ponder on where his NFL career goes from here.
Baker Mayfield’s 2022
Mayfield’s time with Cleveland had its hills and valleys. He showed promise in his rookie season with 27 passing touchdowns and even came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting. In 2020, he helped lead the Browns to their first playoff berth since 2002 and won a playoff game. Then there were the times like the ugly 2019 season when he threw 21 interceptions. Or last year when he posted a 35.1 QBR and was sacked 43 times. The Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, leading Mayfield to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mayfield won the starting job over his 2018 draft classmate Sam Darnold in training camp. However, the positives soon end there.
He started six games with the Panthers and only won one of them. Baker Mayfield is putting up career-worst numbers across the board. His 6.4 yards per attempt ranks third worst in the NFL, while his passer rating (74.4) is second worst. Most egregiously, his QBR is 18.4. Which is not only the worst in the league but the second worst since 2010. Jimmy Clausen, coincidentally a former Panther, only had a 13.8 as a rookie in 2010.
To make matters worse, Mayfield had seemed to fall out of favor in Carolina. Not only did Darnold take the starting job back, but he lost the backup job to PJ Walker as well. And the Panthers decided to cut ties in hopes of not having to pay his guaranteed fifth-year option.
The Panthers have released Baker Mayfield, the team announced. pic.twitter.com/Mr4yToD2lW
— ESPN (@espn) December 5, 2022
What Lies in His Future?
As of now, Baker Mayfield is on waivers, and the other 31 teams have a chance to claim him. Ideally, he should be picked up relatively soon. He plays the most premium position in football, and he was the number one overall pick just four years ago. And teams such as San Francisco and Baltimore could be looking for quarterback insurance due to injuries to their starters.
However, it may not be as simple for Mayfield. Panthers beat writer David Newton reported that Mayfield asked for his release after losing both the starting and backup jobs. But then fellow ESPN colleague Jeremy Fowler reported that the teams he has talked to are not viewing him as a starter. If this is true, it does not bode well for his NFL future.
A good comparison for Mayfield in terms of a career arc is Carson Wentz. Wentz was an MVP candidate once upon a time and was looked at as a borderline top-10 quarterback as recently as 2019. However, his 2020 campaign was comparably as bad as Mayfield’s 2022 season. Wentz got starting jobs with two different teams ever since, however, his reputation had never recovered from that disaster season.
A team may take a flyer on Baker Mayfield as a reclamation project in the same fashion as the Panthers. However, it is a far cry from what his future initially looked like. The NFL world has seen this story before, but it is often one that does not end with a fairytale ending.