CHARLOTTE — The Panthers have been talking about the quarterback position for years, insisting they would keep taking swings until they got it right.
They took another one Wednesday, adding quarterback Baker Mayfield in a deal with the Browns for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024. The deal is pending a physical.
Mayfield gives the Panthers’ roster some immediate credibility, with postseason credentials that their current depth chart lacked.
The 27-year-old Mayfield, originally the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, led the Browns to the playoffs after the 2020 season.
He threw for 3,563 yards, with 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions that year, and was part of the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2002 and first postseason win since 1994.
He was hampered by injuries last season, and his numbers dipped, and the Browns made him expendable by trading for Deshaun Watson this offseason.
Mayfield’s 29-30 all-time as a starter, and would become the fourth former Heisman Trophy winner to play for the Panthers, alongside quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde, Chris Weinke, and Cam Newton.
A quarterback with more of a track record has an obvious appeal for the Panthers, who have put many of the other pieces in place. Drafting left tackle Ikem Ekwonu in the first round was the most significant piece of an offseason makeover up front for the Panthers, along with signing guard Austin Corbett and center Bradley Bozeman.
Mayfield joins Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and rookie Matt Corral on the depth chart. Coaches have said throughout the offseason that if they had to play a game now, Darnold would start, but this deal obviously changes that, as it creates a competitive situation in training camp.
Regardless of the circumstances of his departure from Cleveland, Mayfield has shown he can lead a team to the playoffs. That made it worth the chance for the Panthers, to see if they can get back to the postseason for the first time since 2017.