Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold has opened up about the relationship that he has with Baker Mayfield as they enter training camp together.
Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold have been joined at the hip since the day they entered the NFL, having both been taken in the first round -1st and 3rd respectively – in the 2018 NFL Draft, the first two quarterbacks in the draft, but their relationship goes well beyond that.
After being taken by the New York Jets, Darnold became the team’s starter for Week 1 of the season, whilst Mayfield had to start as a backup behind veteran Tyrod Taylor for the Cleveland Browns, but was thrust into action during Week 3 when the two sides faced off, with Mayfield coming in to win the game, ending the team’s 19-game winless streak.
Cleveland #Browns defeat the New York #Jets 21-17, to snap a 19 game winless streak. Carlos Hyde rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield entered the game for the injured Tyrod Taylor towards the end of the first half. pic.twitter.com/FnCGta3qtl— The 3 Point Conversion (@3ptCnvrsn) September 21, 2018
In the process, there has also been the battle for supremacy with well-known Fox Sports broadcaster Colin Cowherd that has created a lot of fuss since before the 2018 Draft even took place, with Cowherd constantly trying to put Darnold ahead.
The two men now have become teammates after the Carolina Panthers traded for Mayfield this offseason, setting up the scenario that both men are going to be competing for the starting spot with the team ahead of 2022 NFL Draft pick Matt Corrall.
Mayfield holds the upper hand
Darnold was the team’s starter for the majority of last season, and even though it is expected that they will have an ‘open competition’ to decide who will be the team’s starter this season, the numbers make it pretty obvious who it should be that starts, ironically against Cleveland, in Week 1.
Mayfield has more wins, 29 to 17, more passing touchdowns, 92 to 54, a higher completion rate 61.6% to 59.8% and more passing yards, 14,125 to 10,624, and whilst there are obviously a lot of mitigating factors, particularly when it comes to the talent that surrounds them, you have to feel that Mayfield is the safer option moving forward.
But if it is the open competition that the Panthers are hinting at, then it’s possible that things could go the other way, but it’s something that Darnold at least is looking forward to.
What’s he said?
Speaking to the press as the team gets ready for training camp (via ProFootballTalk), Darnold spoke about the relationship that the two men have and what things are set to look like as the two men compete for the starting job in camp:
“Me and Baker are cool. When things start rolling in training camp it’s going to be fun. We’re going to be able to compete and have fun with it. But at the end of the day, this is a business, and we both take our craft and what we do very seriously. So it’s going to be very serious when that time comes to compete. But off the field and all that stuff, me and Baker are really cool.”
Certainly the diplomatic answer from Mayfield there, but whether or not he feels the same when all is said and done and he, as is likely, becomes the team’s backup despite starting for them last year, we’ll have to wait and see.