Though not immediately relevant for the Pittsburgh Steelers, when they take on the Carolina Panthers later in the season, they’ll be on track to face Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has officially been named the Panthers’ starter for Week 1 against his former team the Cleveland Browns, making for one of the top storylines to kick off the season.
The decision comes as no surprise. Carolina traded for Mayfield later in the offseason, desperate to find a quarterback as head coach Matt Rhule tries to save his job. Mayfield beat out veteran Sam Darnold, who struggled a year ago, while rookie Matt Corral suffered a likely season-ending foot injury in the team’s last preseason game.
Mayfield fell out of favor late last season with things coming to a boil following Pittsburgh’s Week 17 win over Cleveland in which they sacked Mayfield nine times. The Browns chased and traded for Deshaun Watson this spring, sealing Mayfield’s fate, though he remained a Brown for months until they reached a deal with Carolina. The Panthers sent back a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick while Cleveland retained a large portion of Mayfield’s salary. Mayfield also took a pay cut to help facilitate the deal.
Pittsburgh is slated to face the Panthers in Week 15 for a Sunday afternoon kickoff. The NFL landscape will look vastly different by then, and there’s no guarantee Mayfield will still be the Panthers’ starter. Heck, odds are probably against Rhule even being the team’s head coach by that point. But Mayfield will get the start, kicking things off against the Browns on September 11th, setting up one of the top revenge games of the season.