One week ago, the Carolina Panthers finally made their move with the Cleveland Browns—acquiring quarterback Baker Mayfield in what was a drawn-out, but potentially fruitful process. And today, they got to talk about it.
Here are the biggest takeaways from general manager Scott Fitterer and Mayfield himself during Tuesday’s press conferences.
There will be a QB competition
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
When asked if Mayfield already has the starting job on lock, Fitterer stated that the team will still have a competition for the spot.
“No, this is an open competition. The reason why we added Baker was to make the group better as a whole. Our whole philosophy is that competition, not just in the quarterback room, but every position. So if we see an opportunity where we can get better where we add a player, it makes sense for us as a team, makes sense for us financially, makes sense for us just from addition standpoint, we’re gonna do that.”
No teams have inquired about Sam Darnold
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
Fitterer also said that he hasn’t received any calls from teams looking to trade for Darnold, even adding that the Panthers aren’t planning on booting him.
“No teams have called. We’re not looking to move Sam at all. I said this last week. Sam’s very much apart of this competition. I think this’ll be great. It’s great for Baker, it’s great for Sam. And I think they’re both gonna rise and play their best football they have.”
Mayfield has no animosity towards Cleveland
AP Photo/Nick Cammett
Things obviously didn’t end well for Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. But there’s no hard feelings, at least from the former’s side.
“No animosity towards Cleveland. It’s a good football town that gave me the first four years of my career. And thankful for those trials and tribulations. All the challenges. A lot to learn from and look back on and reflect. But just really focused on right now and being a Carolina Panther and pumped up to do so.”
It's also all good between Mayfield and Darnold
AP Photo/Ron Schwane
Mayfield said Darnold, his new teammate and challenger at the position, reached out to him following the trade.
“Sam and I, we’ve known each other for a few years now. Great guy. And just welcomed me in. Had tips—where to start looking for houses and all that. Sam’s a great guy. Looking forward to being in that locker room and that quarterback room with him and competing and challenging each other. It’s gonna be special. I think we’re gonna help each other out, quite a bit.”
No. 6 has been secured
AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Punter Johnny Hekker, a free-agent addition from this offseason, has been the owner of the Panthers’ No. 6 uniform . . . until now.
“I guess it’s time to break the news. Made a deal. Did my own negotiating with Johnny. Obviously, when it comes to a four-time All-Pro, had to ask permission. And was willing to make those sacrifices. He’s a guy that . . . he’s got a chip on his shoulder as well, ya know. Undrafted free agent. Spent his whole career with the Rams. Now he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Nah, I’ve had fun getting to know him over the phone. He seems like a great guy and a great leader.
“6 is special to me, not because it was ever my favorite number, it was the number I was given as a walk-on at Texas Tech. And when I transferred, the people at Oklahoma thought it was my favorite number. So they just gave it to me again. And so, it’s just stuck with me. To me, it kinda symbolizes my story. My history with that. I truly enjoy being able to represent that. And it’s something special to me now. But at first, it was not. So I’m thankful for Johnny being reasonable and giving up his number for such a veteran of that many years.”
Mayfield has tweaked his throwing mechanics
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
After losing out on the end of last season due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Mayfield reworked his throwing motion to tune up his game.
“When it comes to my shoulder—and I’m not one for excuses because I was too stubborn to come out anyway—my throwing motion was extremely violent. So that was probably the most hindering reason why. I’ve made some small changes and worked with a great QB coach, Jeff Christensen. He’s helped me get back to a form that . . . I haven’t thrown the ball this well in a long time. And throwing motion looks a little different and I’m thankful for that.”
Mayfield sees potential in Ben McAdoo's system
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
We’ll see how well Mayfield fits under Carolina’s new offensive coordinator. But he is excited for the history and approach McAdoo brings to the unit.
“He’s coached some of the most efficient offenses in NFL history—some of the most prolific teams. And looking at ’em, there’s ability at the line of scrimmage to take advantage of matchups and take advantage of how teams are really schemin’ you up. And luckily, for us, I think that fits very well with our position group, our offensive line. Be able to take advantage that we have so many skill players who are extremely talented. It’s the freedom at the line to be able to let a defense try and guard us a certain way and dictate where we’re gonna go after that. So I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the possibilities we’ll learn about each other during training camp.”