The Carolina Panthers have officially named Baker Mayfield the starting quarterback for Week 1. The Panthers will open the season at home against Mayfield’s former team, the Cleveland Browns.
“When we started this process, we were looking at three things,” head coach Matt Rhule said. “Number one, mastery of the offense, number two, situational football excellence, and number three, moving the ball and getting guys involved. That’s been our focus all along.
“Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.”
Last season’s starter, Sam Darnold, will serve as Mayfield’s backup along with PJ Walker. Rookie quarterback Matt Corral sustained a foot injury on Friday that will sideline him for most of the season.
“All along, we’ve felt like we need to have a really strong quarterback room, and have every quarterback ready to play,” Rhule said. “The reality of this league is most teams will play multiple quarterbacks. Sam has worked incredibly hard, played really well for us during training camp, and will be ready to go if and when it’s needed.”
Mayfield, 27, appeared in one preseason game with the Panthers completing 4-of-7 passes for 45 yards. Last season with the Browns, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 14 games.
In 59 career starts, Mayfield has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 14,125 yards and 92 touchdowns.
He was traded to the Panthers in July in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick.