It sounds like Baker Mayfield is getting the first crack at the Panthers’ starting QB gig. The team announced that their offseason acquisition will start today’s preseason opener against the Commanders.
Mayfield and teammate Sam Darnold have been alternating first-team snaps throughout training camp, but it will be Mayfield who will get the first look on Saturday. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler expects Mayfield to get one or two series before giving way to Darnold, who will also get one or two series (Twitter link). After that, the Panthers will likely lean on PJ Walker and rookie third-round pick Matt Corral for the rest of the exhibition.
On one side, it’s clearly telling that Mayfield will be playing alongside other definitive offensive starters, and throughout training camp, we’ve been given every indication that the former first-overall pick was in the lead for the starting QB job. However, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington cautions (on Twitter) that we shouldn’t take too much away from today’s game. Rather, the “true barometer” for the competition will come next week when Carolina practices against New England. According to Darlington, people with the team believe the QB decision will be made following that August 19 game against the Patriots.
Head coach Matt Rhule echoed that next week will be essential for the QB competition, noting that it was an “ongoing process” with no clear deadline.
“When we know, we know,” Rhule said (via Darin Gantt of the team’s website). “If we knew for sure, we would say it and just move on with it. When we, we know. Every day brings new evidence. Every day brings new insights. But at the same time, they’re both competitors. If one guy has a strong day, the next guy fights back the next day. I think it’s been healthy for our team. It’s been healthy for the staff. I think it’s been done the right way. I’m pleased with where it’s at.”