Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule will be looking for employment if he allows Sam Darnold to quarterback the team this year, says at least one NFL analyst.
That was the sentiment that NFL Total Access’ James Jones recently delivered when asked about the potential to acquire Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
“I don’t care about the money. You have to go get Baker Mayfield. If you do not win in this league as a head coach, you get fired. If you do not have a good quarterback in this league, you cannot win, that’s been proven. We’ve seen this year after year after year,” said Jones, a former Super Bowl-winning wide receiver who caught an NFL-leading 14 touchdown passes in 2012.
“Baker Mayfield right now coming off the streets, wherever he’s at in Cleveland, makes this team better. He is a better player and a better quarterback. We’ve seen the best of Sam Darnold, we can’t keep giving Darnold more chances. Baker Mayfield led this Cleveland Browns team to the playoffs and won on the road in Pittsburgh... If you do not bring in a quarterback you are going to end up being fired depending on Sam Darnold,” said Jones.
Mayfield has thrown for at least 22 touchdown passes in three of his four NFL seasons. He also turned around a 1-31 Cleveland Browns team and led them to a 7-8-1 season during his rookie year. That year he threw 27 touchdown passes, breaking the record for the most touchdown passes thrown by a rookie quarterback. Justin Herbert broke Mayfield’s record in 2020.
Darnold, on the other hand, was put into a difficult position as New York Jets quarterback and it never got better. He’s 17-32 as a starter, having thrown 54 touchdown passes and 52 interceptions. The former USC pivot has gone 6-17 as a starting quarterback over the past two seasons.
NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger also chimed in on the topic, saying that the Panthers should pull the trigger on the deal if they can make the money work on Mayfield’s large $18 million salary issue.
“Baker has been a more accomplished quarterback in this league than Sam Darnold. I know people always remember what happened last year, but he was playing with a shoulder that was falling off all year long and he tried to gut it out as best he could and I think he put up a good season. But I think he’s a better player and if Carolina is serious about getting into the race here, get the best possible player you can at that position.”