CLEVELAND, Ohio – “Caroline has no flaws.”
This is what Ellis Williams told me about the Browns sending Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers for a future fourth or fifth round pick.
The name Williams should be familiar to many readers of cleveland.com. The Panthers beatman was part of our Browns lighting team for two years before taking a job with the Charlotte Observer at the start of last season.
So, Williams watched Mayfield with the Cleveland and Panthers in 2021. It’s a unique point of view, which is why I called him. In the past three seasons, the Panthers have been 5-12, 5-11 and 5-11. They went through four QBs: Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Kyle Allen and Cam Newton. Carolina head coach Matt Rule is fighting to keep his job after 10 wins in his first two seasons with the Panthers.
The Panthers hired several former Browns assistant coaches: James Campen (offensive line), Chris Tabor (special teams), Al Holcomb (linebackers), and Steve Wilkes (defensive forces). The new offensive coordinator was Ben McAdoo, former head coach of the New York Giants.
And yes, Buddy’s old friend and baker Rashard Higgins is in Carolina right now.
There is an element of desperation in Carolina. Former Baylor head coach Rule needs to at least get closer to the playoffs. This is the goal for 2022.
None of this should be new for Mayfield, who moved to the Browns after they were 4-44 in the previous three seasons. Despair. coaching changes. New composition. He went through all this and more.
“How many head coaches has Baker had?” Williams asked me.
“That’s five in five years,” I said.
“He used to have to quickly learn new violations,” Williams said. This will help him here.
MAYFIELD Vs. DARNOLD
“The team says it’s an open competition between Darnold and Baker,” Williams said. “But I expect Baker to start. He’s better than Darnold.
The Panthers are also counting on Mayfield, otherwise why trade him for a training camp in just a few weeks?
Mayfield was selected first overall in the 2018 draft. Darnold was drafted No. 3 by the Jets. Darnold has never been able to achieve much in his career. Meanwhile, two of Mayfield’s four seasons in Cleveland were good.
The Panthers also have rookie Matt Corral, a third-round pick from Mississippi. They have PJ Walker and Davis Cheeks, which gives them a total of five people in their QB room. But the Panthers are counting on a highly motivated Mayfield in the final season of his contract to revive the franchise.
As for Darnold, he’s started 6-17 over the past two seasons. Most alarming is his 18 TD passes compared to 24 interceptions. That’s why the Panthers made the deal. I heard the two teams agreed on a deal a few weeks ago, the Browns paid $10.5 million out of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary.
The final part was the reworking of Mayfield’s contract by Carolina. QB agreed to forego a $3.5 million salary. He has a chance to win back this in the form of rewards based on the games played.
After all, Carolina acquired Mayfield for a mid-round draft pick and pays just $4.8 million of his salary.
“It’s a good deal for the Panthers,” Williams said. “They really have nothing to lose because they gave up so little.”
THIS IS NOT JACKSONVILLE
“The team has talent,” Williams said. “DJ Moore (93 receptions) is an Amari Cooper type receiver, maybe better. Christian McCaffrey (Pro Bowl running back) healthy. The offensive line is better. This is not Jacksonville (the Jags were 3-14 last season).”
Last season, the Panthers finished 30th in overall offense and 29th in points scored (17.9 per game). McCaffrey has only played 10 games in the last two seasons. In 2018-19, he averaged 1,245 yards and averaged 110 passes per season. That’s right, a runner who catches over 100 balls in a season.
The Panthers invested in their offensive line. They got North Carolina State to pick the No. 6 pick with left tackle Ikem Ekwon. They signed veteran free center Bradley Bozeman and defenseman Austin Corbett. Yes, this is the same Corbett who was selected first in the second round by former Browns general manager John Dorsey in 2018. He played little as a rookie. A year later, the Browns waived him, trading Corbett to the Rams. He immediately became a starting quarterback and played on the Super Bowl winning team.
He signed a three-year, $26 million contract with Carolina.
“The offensive line won’t be as good as Baker’s in Cleveland,” Williams said. But it should still be good.
The Browns’ lineup was hit hard by injuries to Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. last season. Mayfield has been fired 43 times.
The Carolina defense finished second in yards allowed. This is a talented unit.
“That’s why most of the fans here are excited,” Williams said. “They know that if Baker improves the offense, the Panthers have a chance to become a much better team.”
TERRY PLUTO’S LATEST COLUMNS
Why such love for Baker Mayfield?
Browns should be serious about adding another quarterback
Do Browns fans have a soft spot for Baker Mayfield?
Would the Browns’ bosses have been on a roll if Mayfield had stayed? Hey Terry
Darius Garland’s amazing rise from ‘worst NBA player’ to max contract
Guardians, children and the opportunity to have fun
What I heard about the owners of the Guardians: six years before Blitzer took over
Terry’s Talkin’ about Cavs goes free will
#Baker #Mayfield #Carolina #Browns #revive #career #Terry #Pluto