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Panthers have ‘inside track’ to land Baker Mayfield after Deshaun Watson trade: report

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Baker Mayfield is in NFL limbo following the Cleveland Browns‘ decision to trade for Deshaun Watson, but one team in the NFC has reportedly emerged as a front-runner to land the former Oklahoma quarterback.

The Carolina Panthers, who have last year’s starter Sam Darnold on their roster, are believed to have the “inside track” to acquire Mayfield, The Plain Dealer reported. Mayfield would likely start over Darnold and a rookie if the Panthers decide to select one in this month’s draft, and the move could reportedly happen in the next couple of weeks.

The report coincides with comments made Friday by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on the Pat McAfee Show indicating Carolina would be the most likely landing spot for the quarterback. 

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield walks to the locker room after the Browns defeated the Detroit Lions 13-10 Nov. 21, 2021, in Cleveland.
(AP Photo/David Richard)

“To me, the Carolina Panthers seem to be the most likely spot for Baker Mayfield, or maybe a team brings him in as a high-money backup, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – that would make some sense to me,” Rapoport said. 

Last week, Mayfield said he felt “disrespected” by the Browns after they traded for Watson, who is still facing 22 lawsuits over sexual assault allegations.

“I feel disrespected 100%,” Mayfield said on the YNK podcast that aired Wednesday. “Because I was told one thing, and they completely did another. That’s what I’m in the middle of right now.”

BAKER MAYFIELD SAYS HE FEELS ‘DISRESPECTED’ BY BROWNS FOLLOWING DESHAUN WATSON TRADE

Mayfield, who remains on the Browns roster and will likely be traded soon, initially believed he would wind up with the Indianapolis Colts. Last week, he said the Seattle Seahawks “would probably be the most likely option” after they traded away longtime starter Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield works out prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens Nov. 28, 2021, in Baltimore.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield works out prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens Nov. 28, 2021, in Baltimore.
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

“I’m ready for the next chapter, the next opportunity, because the only one I’m guaranteed with the next spot is one year,” he said.

His next chapter has yet to be written because several teams are reportedly interested in Mayfield.

If Mayfield lands in Carolina, which lost out on the Watson sweepstakes, one teammate might not be too happy about the move. 

After Panthers.way on Instagram posted a quote indicating the Panthers would be the most likely landing spot for Mayfield, wide receiver Robby Anderson, responded “Nooooo.”

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson celebrates after scoring against the New York Jets Sept. 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson celebrates after scoring against the New York Jets Sept. 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.
(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Last year with the Panthers, Anderson caught 53 passes for 519 yards, the lowest receiving total of his career. Darnold went 4-7 as a starter in 11 games for Carolina last season, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  

As for Mayfield, the quarterback battled a shoulder injury last season in Cleveland. He started 14 games and threw for 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns, the lowest totals in his career. 

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Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since 2002, throwing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. 



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