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Baker Mayfield Will See Former Team In Week One As Panthers Host Browns

With training camps set to open up in a few weeks or so, teams are becoming increasingly motivated to act on the final pieces of the puzzle that they wanted to put together in time. For the Carolina Panthers, that included acquiring what may be their starting quarterback for the 2022 season.

Following conflicting reports about the Seattle Seahawks’ interest in Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, news broke yesterday that the former first-overall pick had been dealt to Carolina, who previously acquired 2018 third-overall pick Sam Darnold. The Panthers also drafted quarterback Matt Corral in the third round.

The Browns got a conditional fifth-round draft pick in exchange for Mayfield, which can rise to a fourth-round pick if he plays 70 percent of the team’s snaps. They also had to eat about $10 million to move him, with the Panthers agreeing to pay $4.5 million after the quarterback agreed to trim his salary.

But the interesting part is that the Panthers and Browns will play each other this season. In Week 1. Mayfield, acquired on July 6, could be playing his former team, the team he felt betrayed by on September 11 in his first action in his new city.

This, of course, means that the Pittsburgh Steelers will still play Mayfield this year as well, or at least Mayfield’s team, if he’s not starting. That won’t be until December 18, though, late in the season, so a lot can happen between now and then.

And so the question now becomes, will Mayfield start more games this season than the man the Browns dumped him for? Deshaun Watson should be hearing about his disciplinary ruling shortly, so we should soon have a preliminary idea of whether or how much time he might be missing.

As you will recall, the NFL has argued that Watson should be suspended indefinitely, for a minimum length of one full season. The NFLPA has argued that no suspension should be given, consistent with how owners have been treated when facing accusations within a similar sphere.

It seems rather unlikely that the disciplinary officer will agree that Watson should not be suspended at all, but either way, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell is likely to be highly motivated to ensure that the quarterback serves a lengthy suspension, one way or the other.

So it’s not guaranteed that Watson ever takes the field at all this season. But Mayfield isn’t locked into a starting job, at the same time. It has already been reported that the Panthers have no intention of trading Darnold, and it’s not like they gave up a king’s ransom for Mayfield. Then there’s always the possibility that Corral emerges at some point during the year.

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