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Baker Mayfield benched, Sam Darnold to start for Panthers vs Broncos

The Panthers will field their 3rd starting quarterback of the season with PJ Walker on the shelf.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Boy, what a wild season at quarterback for the Panthers.

After PJ Walker went out with a high ankle sprain following a week 10 win against the Falcons, Baker Mayfield started a week 11 trip to Baltimore. The offense put on a terrible performance, only mustering 3 points despite the defense only allowing 13 as Baker threw 21/33 passes for 196 yards and 2 INTs. It seems that was the last straw for Baker as a Panther, as the Panthers have named Sam Darnold the starter on Sunday.

Sam Darnold hasn’t played a snap in 2022, following a 2021 where he ended 4-8 as a starter following a hot 3-0 start to the season. He threw 243/406 passes for 2,527 yards, 9 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, while being sacked a career tying high 35 times. He added 5 TDs on the ground. Sam Darnold was given his 5th year option prior to that calamity of a season, so whether he plays a single snap or not in 2022, the Panthers owe him $18.85 million on the season.

The move comes as not much of a shock. Despite the lows of PJ Walker at times, he far out-shined Baker Mayfield as a starter, and if Baker plays 70% of the snaps the conditional 5th round pick the Panthers traded for his services elevates to a 4th round pick. I’m no fan of the sunk cost fallacy, but at this point the Panthers don’t have any real incentive to stick to Baker as they’ve all but mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention. Let’s see what “Hey, Darnold” has to offer.

What are your thoughts on this move?