Carolina Panthers’ Sam Darnold will be there to support new Panthers starter Baker Mayfield, and Darnold will be the highest paid player on the Panthers team($18.8M as a backup)

Panthers’ Sam Darnold will ‘support’ new starter Baker Mayfield
from Zac Wassink, with

It was widely believed that the Carolina Panthers didn’t trade with the Cleveland Browns in July for quarterback Baker Mayfield just to sit him behind 2021 starter Sam Darnold, who largely underwhelmed during his one and only season atop the club’s depth chart.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule confirmed the expected news on Monday and announced that Mayfield will enter the regular season as his QB1 and will get the nod for the Week 1 matchup on Sept. 11 against none other than the Browns, his former employer.

Darnold’s future with the Panthers and in the NFL, in general, is unclear. Both Carolina and the New York Jets have given up on the signal-caller, and the 25-year-old who was the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the final year of his rookie contract and likely won’t be re-signed by a Panthers team that grabbed Matt Corral in the third round of this year’s player-selection process.

Per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, Darnold admitted while speaking with reporters that losing the competition to Mayfield “sucks,” but he also vowed to assist his new teammate in any way possible.

“We were fighting for the starting job,” Darnold said about the battle. “Every day was our game day out there during camp, especially as we got into these last couple weeks. . . . Obviously it didn’t go my way. Coach named Baker the starter. My mindset is it is what it is. For me, right now, I’m gonna do everything I can to support Baker and get him ready to play a game.”

Darnold missed time last fall with a shoulder injury and finished the season 29th among eligible quarterbacks with a 71.9 passer rating and a 33.2 total QBR, per ESPN stats. Over 12 games, he completed 59.9% of his passes for 2,527 yards with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Sam Darnold to be Panthers’ highest-paid player ($18.8M) while backing up Baker Mayfield
from Andrew Kulha, at

Sam Darnold received some unfortunate news on Monday. The former No. 3 overall pick is still wanted by the Carolina Panthers, but the starting quarterback role — at least for now — won’t be for him.

Instead, head coach Matt Rhule has decided to go with Baker Mayfield. It’s a bit ironic because Mayfield was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the same draft Darnold was taken by the New York Jets. It’s also ironic because the Panthers traded away assets hoping that Darnold could be their “savior” at quarterback, which obviously didn’t play out.

They then proceeded to do the same with Mayfield, so it will be interesting to see how that works out.

While today was undoubtedly a hit to the ego for Darnold, at least he’ll still be getting paid like a starting quarterback. He’ll be riding the bench for the foreseeable future but will still be making $18.8 million dollars this season.

To put that in perspective, Darnold will have the highest base salary on the team this season, and he’ll take up 8.8% of Carolina’s total cap. He’ll be getting paid more than Shaq Thomson ($13.1 million) Christian McCaffrey, Robbie Anderson ($10.9 million), and Christian McCaffrey ($8.7 million).

This is just further proof that being the backup may be one of the best jobs in sports, though Darnold probably doesn’t feel that today.