Matt Rhule, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, was vague when Baker Mayfield finally agreed to join the team after leaving the Cleveland Browns. He made it apparent that the starter would be decided by a quarterback duel between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold.
With the Panthers confirming that the former No. 1 pick will start in Week 1 against his former team, it appears that Mayfield prevailed in the preseason struggle. Darnold hasn’t received a lot of encouraging news this summer, so this most recent development must have hurt. Although he had a strong response to losing the job to Baker Mayfield, he continued to support his friend.
“My mindset is it is what it is,” Darnold said. “And for me, right now, I’m going to do everything I can to support Baker and get him ready to play a game.”
Sam Darnold on Baker Mayfield being named Panthers QB1: “My mindset is it is what it is. And for me, right now, I’m going to do everything I can to support Baker and get him ready to play a game.”https://t.co/9IVV1g2Ycv pic.twitter.com/WMMG66AgRZ
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 22, 2022
The former USC star’s QB competition with the Panthers was his first since the Jets selected him with the third overall pick in 2018. Darnold ultimately lost his starting position to the athlete who was chosen first overall four years ago. When asked whether he felt any relief now that a decision had been made, Darnold thought back on how things worked out with the competition behind him.
“For me, personally, it sucks, to be quite honest.” Darnold said. “It’s just tough whenever you go into camp battling for a starting job, putting everything out there to be the starter and it doesn’t go your way. There’s no sense of relief or anything like that for me. I’m just gonna continue to come in here every single day and get better and, like I said before, help Baker, give him everything he needs to go out there and perform.”
Sam Darnold speaks to the media https://t.co/3fAwlUc44q
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 22, 2022
Although it is uncertain whether Darnold will be given another opportunity to start in the NFL, the Panthers’ management clearly thought that he fell short of expectations after the team traded three draft picks to acquire him in July 2021.
In the 21 season, Darnold started 11 of his 12 games and threw for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns, and 13 interceptions while maintaining a 59.9 completion percentage. Carolina finished with a 5-12 record, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.