Panthers won’t decide between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield as QB1 for at least two more weeks


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The Carolina Panthers are giving their two best quarterbacks enough time to win the starting job.

Head coach Matt Rhule told reporters after the Panthers’ scrimmage on Saturday that a decision between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield won’t come until at least after playing two preseason games.

Sam Darnold (14) and Baker Mayfield (6) of the Carolina Panthers during training camp at Wofford College on August 2, 2022, in Spartanburg, SC
(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I’m not putting a timeline on the quarterback position until we come back from the [New England] Patriots Week,” Rhule said, via ESPN.

“Patriots week is a real litmus test for us. It will really show us where the guys are at.”

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The Panthers will face New England on August 19.

Mayfield started the scrimmage with the first team, but each QB took equal reps with the first and second teams. Mayfield went 14 for 21 with a touchdown and an interception, while Darnold completed 20 of 28 passes with a score and a pick.

Rhule said that with the team out on Sunday, the coaches will “really dig into the strip and see who is really getting the offense down and who isn’t.”

Sam Darnold (14) and Baker Mayfield (6) of the Carolina Panthers during training camp at Wofford College on August 2, 2022, Spartanburg, SC

Sam Darnold (14) and Baker Mayfield (6) of the Carolina Panthers during training camp at Wofford College on August 2, 2022, Spartanburg, SC
(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

BROWNS AGREES TO TRADE BAKER MAYFIELD TO PANTHERS

The Panthers traded to the New York Jets last year for Darnold, giving up a long way to get him. Carolina gave up a 2021 sixth-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick in April of last year.

Darnold beat his old team in Week 1 last season and got off to a 3-1 start, throwing for nearly 1,200 yards and five touchdowns. However, in his last eight, he’s thrown for just four touchdowns and been picked 10 times, amassing just 1,338 passing yards.

Baker Mayfield (6) of the Cleveland Browns congratulates Sam Darnold (14) of the New York Jets after the Jets defeated the Browns 23-16 at MetLife Stadium December 27, 2020, East Rutherford, NJ

Baker Mayfield (6) of the Cleveland Browns congratulates Sam Darnold (14) of the New York Jets after the Jets defeated the Browns 23-16 at MetLife Stadium December 27, 2020, East Rutherford, NJ
(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

As for Mayfield, the Panthers acquired him this offseason after the Cleveland Browns traded for Deshaun Watson. Last season, Mayfield failed to throw for 20 touchdowns for the first time, and he barely got for 3,000 yards. His 3,010 passing yards were, by far, a career low. The Panthers gave up a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick for Mayfield.

The Panthers have given up four draft picks for two QBs in two offseasons, and they don’t know which one will start.

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Mayfield was the first selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Darnold was drafted two picks later.


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