AP Photo/David Richard
Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield said he’s willing to admit the team’s Week 1 game against his former organization, the Cleveland Browns, has added significance.
mayfield said Darin Gantt from the Panthers’ official website on Tuesday that he’s trying not to hold grudges, but his history with the Browns is an obvious storyline that points to the 9/11 showdown at Bank of America Stadium:
“I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you this isn’t the one I’ve already marked on the calendar. Number one, it’s not who I am. For me, it’s about to win games. Whoever we scored on the program, I’m going to try to win. Obviously this one has a bit more history and personal meaning, but for me it’s about winning and giving the tone for the rest of the year, and however I can help this team do that, I will.”
Although it took longer than Mayfield or the Browns probably wanted, the team was finally able to find him a new home before the start of the 2022 season.
Cleveland was only able to salvage a conditional fifth-round draft pick in the deal, showing how much the quarterback’s stock has fallen since being selected with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Now the Browns are waiting to hear if Deshaun Watson will be available this season. The quarterback could receive a lengthy suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy after 24 civil lawsuits were filed against him by women accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct during massage sessions. Watson has settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits.
If Watson is suspended, Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs will top the team’s QB depth chart.
Meanwhile, Mayfield against the Browns in the season opener is generating a lot of buzz, but he’ll have to earn the job first.
Carolina has three other quarterbacks eyeing the starting spot heading into training camp: Sam Darnold, PJ Walker and rookie Matt Corral.
Mayfield should be considered the favorite, but his Browns record of 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions in 60 games keeps him well ahead of being a lock for the top spot on the depth chart.
The 27-year-old Texas native told Gantt he’s gotten used to quarterbacking competitions over the years.
“To me, it’s pretty familiar,” Mayfield said. “Obviously the NFL is different from college, but walking twice and having to go through that process, you level the playing field. You compete with other guys and you build confidence in yourself.”
He added that his ultimate goal is to become a “franchise-level quarterback for years to come.”
“I know it won’t be easy at all. I have to go and win it. But I’m looking forward to the competition and the challenge,” Mayfield said.
Having the chance to face the Browns in Week 1 is probably an extra source of motivation.