The Panthers have announced that Baker Mayfield will be their starting QB for the 2022 season. The team’s head coach, Matt Rhule, announced the news on Monday. “When we started this process, we were looking at three things,” Rhule told reporters. “Number one, mastery of the offense, number two, situational football excellence, and number three, moving the ball and getting guys involved. That’s been our focus all along.”
The Panthers are looking a bit short-staffed right now – on Friday, their newcomer Matt Corral suffered a foot injury that will likely take him out for the season. He was expected to be the team’s starting QB, so his loss had many Panthers fans panicking about the season’s prospects.
“Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time,” Rhule noted about his team’s new starter.
Mayfield himself has resisted the description of this season as a “redemption” year for him, but he will notably square off against the team that let him go in the first match of the 2022 season. The Panthers will meet the Cleveland Browns on September 11 to get the season rolling, meaning the Panthers’ newcomer will have a chance to show the Browns what they’re missing.
“All along, we’ve felt like we need to have a really strong quarterback room, and have every quarterback ready to play,” Rhule noted. The Panthers also have Sam Darnold and PJ Walker on the bench, ready to step in if Mayfield doesn’t pan out.
“The reality of this league is most teams will play multiple quarterbacks. Sam has worked incredibly hard, played really well for us during training camp, and will be ready to go if and when it’s needed.”
The Browns planned to start Deshaun Watson for the season opener, but he’s been suspended from the league for the first eleven games of the season. His suspension has been a controversial topic for NFL fans, but Cleveland’s acquisition of the legally-embattled player has also proven divisive in the city.
In either case, the Browns will be starting Jacoby Brisset this season for the opener against the Panthers. “It’s not a redemption year,” Mayfield said of the upcoming season. “I know what I’m capable of. I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody else. I’m just trying to lead this locker room the best I can and win a bunch of ballgames.”