Carolina Panthers’ Sam Darnold Shares Thoughts on Upcoming Quarterback Competition with Baker Mayfield

by Nick Geddes

Selected just two picks apart in the 2018 NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold likely never expected to be on the same team just four years later.

They’d probably tell you that if it was true – and it is – both their careers wouldn’t have gone to plan. To this point, you could argue that as fact. Mayfield was chased out of Cleveland despite leading the franchise to its first playoff appearance since 2002. Darnold, meanwhile, went 13-25 in three seasons with the New York Jets and was dealt to the Carolina Panthers ahead of last season.

Year One with the Panthers wasn’t much better for Darnold, leading Carolina to acquire Mayfield from the Browns. The two now find themselves in a quarterback competition – something Darnold is looking forward to.

“It’s always fun to compete and to be able to have someone to compete with,”Darnold said at training camp Tuesday, via Kevin Patra of “At the same time, in our eyes, we’re both the starting quarterback for this team right now, and that’s how we’re going to view it.”

Sam Darnold Expects Baker Mayfield to Push Him to Be Better

While Mayfield is the favorite to be under center for Week 1, the door isn’t shut on Darnold. If anything, Darnold says, Mayfield’s presence should make him a better quarterback.

“Me and Baker are cool,” Darnold said. “… We’re going to be able to compete and have fun with it. But at the end of the day, this is a business, and we both take our craft and what we do very seriously. So it’s going to be very serious when it’s time to compete. But off the field and all that stuff, me and Baker are really cool.”

Darnold, 25, played in just 11 games in 2021, going 4-7 as starter. For the second consecutive season, he threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (9). Mayfield, 27, has had more success, two years removed from throwing 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

He battled through a shoulder injury in 2021 and played in 14 games. The Browns missed the playoffs and acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans this offseason.