Baker Mayfield Announced as Carolina Panthers’ Week 1 Starter Against Cleveland Browns

by Patrick Norton

It’s the Baker Mayfield Show for the Carolina Panthers to begin the 2022 NFL season. In an important season for the coaching staff, the team tasks Mayfield with the ultimate revenge game in Week 1. The new starter takes on the Cleveland Browns after they traded Mayfield to his new home last month.

Mayfield beat out last year’s starter, Sam Darnold. However, the competition never felt out of the former first overall pick’s control. Acquiring Mayfield and a small chunk of his salary meant dissatisfaction with the current situation.

And while Darnold was mildly capable when healthy last season, it’s an important season for head coach Matt Rhule. The coach possesses a 10-23 record in his first two seasons since jumping from the college level. Five wins each year hardly shows improvement, placing a heavy emphasis on success in 2022.

For Baker Mayfield, the opportunity to start against his former team provides quite the spectacle. However, he won’t face off against his replacement. Instead, the Browns will likely start Jacoby Brissett amid the 11-game suspension of Deshaun Watson for his ongoing litigation regarding sexual misconduct allegations.

The entire situation is a doozy for Mayfield and the Browns. While Cleveland seemingly moved on from the quarterback while the former first-rounder suffered behind an inept offensive line, the team also made the controversial acquisition of Deshaun Watson.

Sending Mayfield to Carolina ended the odd relationship, but leaves the embattled franchise without a starting-caliber quarterback in the wake of Watson’s mandatory banishment.

Baker Mayfield’s Week 1 Status Hardly Guarantees to No. 1 Spot All Season

Just because a new home means a new beginning for Mayfield, it doesn’t mean Matt Rhule won’t make rash decisions in an attempt to remain employed. It’s a “prove it” season for the coach and with Sam Darnold waiting in the wings, if the offense struggles, he could call his number.

Carolina possesses the top two quarterbacks selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, the team lacks clear direction and focus under Rhule’s rule. But Baker should feel right at home as the scapegoat should Rhule bench his starter.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and his staff labeled Mayfield as “immature” while concocting his exit from Cleveland. However, the team then acquired a quarterback with 24 civil lawsuits pertaining to sexual misconduct.

The move remains a stain for the Cleveland Browns, and Mayfield’s Week 1 performance could rub salt in the wound. Baker Mayfield against the Browns kicks off the 2022 NFL season with plenty of intrigue.