Tagged in: panthers

Cleveland Browns trade Baker Mayfield to Carolina Panthers for 2024 conditional NFL draft pick

The Cleveland Browns agreed to trade quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday for a 2024 conditional draft pick.

The Panthers will pay $4.85 million of Mayfield’s salary, while the Browns will pay $10.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Mayfield accepted to convert the remainder of his $18.8 million salary into incentives to facilitate the deal, which is pending a physical. Mayfield can earn back that money based on team performance, a source said.

The Browns will get a fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2024, depending on Mayfield’s playing time in Carolina, a source told ESPN. For the pick to go to a fourth-rounder, Mayfield would have to play 70% of the snaps, a league source told ESPN’s David Newton.

Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, joins a Panthers team that already has Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall selection in 2018, on its quarterback depth chart. The Panthers also selected Matt Corral in the third round of this year’s draft.

The Panthers have no intention of trading Darnold after acquiring Mayfield, a league source told Newton.

Now Mayfield and Darnold, who competed with each other to become the No. 1 pick in 2018, will compete again in training camp to vie for the right to be the Panthers’ starter this season, a league source told Schefter.

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If Mayfield gets the job, his first starting assignment will be versus the Browns, who are scheduled to visit Carolina in Week 1. The Browns are currently 1-point favorites at Caesars Sportsbook.

Panthers quarterbacks posted a 30.3 QBR last season, which was ranked 30th in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Mayfield had a 35.1 QBR last season, ranking 27th of the 31 qualified quarterbacks, while Darnold was the only non-rookie with a lower QBR.

With the trade, Carolina’s Super Bowl odds went from 125-1 to 100-1 at Caesars Sportsbook, while its odds to win the NFC jumped from 60-1 to 50-1 and to win the NFC South from 12-1 to 11-1.

“We want to thank Baker for all his contributions to the Cleveland Browns,” owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “From the moment he was drafted, he gave his all for this organization and this city. With his fierce competitive spirit, he excited the fanbase and accomplished things that no player at his position had done in Cleveland for a very long time. He also made a difference in the community, whether it was hosting events at the Boys and Girls Club, honoring our troops, supporting the Special Olympics as well as countless other charitable endeavors. We are grateful for everything he did for this organization and wish him and Emily well in the future.”

The Mayfield trade comes on the heels of Cleveland’s blockbuster deal with the Houston Texans that landed quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns gave Watson a new five-year deal worth $230 million fully guaranteed, the richest deal in guaranteed money in NFL history by an $80 million margin.

Cleveland also surrendered three first-round picks in the deal, the first team to do so for a single player since the Minnesota Vikings traded three first-rounders to the Dallas Cowboys for running back Herschel Walker in 1989. With Mayfield gone, the Browns now have starter Watson along with Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs at quarterback.

Watson, however, might not be available to the Browns at all this season. He has been accused in civil lawsuits by 25 women of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.

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Carolina Panthers OC Ben McAdoo says QB Sam Darnold is the team’s starter

New Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo emphatically stated “yes” on Tuesday when asked whether Sam Darnold was his starting quarterback and added that the third pick of the 2018 draft was one reason he took this job.

Seconds later, the former New York Giants head coach tempered his yes by adding that coach Matt Rhule has a say over the decision but that “the way it is in the building right now, Sam is our starting quarterback.”

Darnold and P.J. Walker are the only quarterbacks under contract for 2022, and the Panthers are vetting quarterbacks as candidates for the No. 6 pick in the draft.

“One of the things I’ve been working on is being better talking to you people [media], so announcing the starting quarterback here I just put my foot in my mouth,” said McAdoo, who was fired by the Giants after the 2017 season.

“That wasn’t something I should have said.”

But McAdoo has liked parts of Darnold’s game since the New York Jets drafted him No. 3 out of USC.

He told the New York Post in 2018 that Darnold had a “lot of magic in his game,” although he wondered aloud whether Darnold ever would be the franchise-saver the Jets needed him to be. At the time, he couldn’t get past the flaws in Darnold’s throwing mechanics and ball security.

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“I think he’s special,” McAdoo told the Post. “He’s obviously a talented guy, he can make plays with his feet. I’d just have a hard time drafting a guy in the first round where you don’t necessarily like the way he throws.

“He can overcome it, guys have, but that’s something that’s a challenge for me. I’m gonna be looking at that, trying to fix it, because it’s a fundamental flaw, and I believe in the fundamentals. The quarterback, his No. 1 job is to pass the football. If I don’t like the way he throws the ball, I have a hard time picking him, right?”

But in a sense McAdoo picked Darnold when choosing to come to Carolina after spending last campaign as a consultant for the Dallas Cowboys.

“Sam does have some magic in his game,” McAdoo said in his first interview since being hired on Jan. 24. “He’s got some athleticism to him. I’m excited to work with Sam. We’ve been working the last few days here to get up to speed on offense, and he’s shown flashes of being a good player in this league.”

That doesn’t mean the Panthers are more likely to take a left tackle than a quarterback at No. 6. They’ve spent the past few months evaluating quarterbacks and used seven of their 30 official visits on the position.

The Panthers have had visits with — Liberty’s Malik Willis, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe and Nevada’s Carson Strong.

Willis, Pickett and Corral, according to draft analysts, are the most likely to go in the first round, with Pickett considered best prepared to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

McAdoo doesn’t put a lot of stock in being game ready.

McAdoo appears open to Darnold being his starter despite reports the Panthers are interested in trading for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. League sources told ESPN that the team simply has been doing due diligence on the position and that if such a trade occurred, it would be after the draft.

McAdoo said in the 2018 Post article that Mayfield had an “edge” about him but that he didn’t see “a lot of pro-style football in his tape.”

McAdoo declined to talk about Mayfield on Tuesday. “I’d love to comment on your question, but this isn’t my first rodeo,” McAdoo said. “I’m going to keep the comments to players on our roster right now.”

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Sam Darnold ‘in the lead’ for Carolina Panthers quarterback job, general manager Scott Fitterer says

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, less than a month after saying the starting quarterback job was “open,” on Friday said Sam Darnold was “in the lead for that job.”

“We want him to take it and run with it,” Fitterer said. “But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize the quarterback position to play winning football.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

A lot has transpired to alter Fitterer’s thought process, starting with Carolina’s failure to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston.

Watson ultimately picked Cleveland over Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers were ruled out, according to a league source, because they wouldn’t guarantee the third and fourth years on Watson’s contract.

Watson ultimately got a new, five-year deal with the Browns in which he got $230 million fully guaranteed.

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And while Fitterer wouldn’t admit to disappointment over not getting Watson, he says the roster is better than it was a year ago and the Panthers are “two steps closer” to winning the NFC South.

That said, Fitterer didn’t rule out using the No. 6 pick of the April draft on a quarterback or adding another quarterback before the draft via trade or free agency to compete with Darnold.

The most high-profile quarterback available is Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, who demanded a trade when the Browns started pursuing Watson.

The Panthers presently are not interested in trading for Mayfield, according to a league source.

“We’re monitoring all that,” Fitterer said without addressing Mayfield specifically. “Nothing that we’re going to do immediately.”

Carolina has salary-cap room, around $28 million, to make a move on a quarterback or other players that could improve the roster. Fitterer stated the door hasn’t been closed on bringing back Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore or quarterback Cam Newton.

In terms of Newton, Fitterer said the 2015 NFL MVP would have to want to return to Carolina and understand his role for another reunion to occur.

The Panthers made Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft, released him during the 2020 offseason and brought him back on a one-year deal late last season with Darnold on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Newton was 0-5 as the starter in 2021.

Fitterer’s goal is to make the rest of the roster strong enough so that when Carolina finds the right quarterback the team can win. He says the moves made in free agency have the roster closer to that, adding that most of the deals would have been made even if the team got Watson and his new deal.

But Fitterer admitted the best way to build a roster is to drop a young quarterback into the mix and build around him because that’s most cost-efficient, with established veterans getting such big deals.

That’s how he helped Seattle build into a Super Bowl team with Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

“That’s probably the right way to build it, draft and development,” Fitterer said. “That’d be a really good plan for us moving forward, but we’re open to all options.”

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Bucs beat Panthers 41-17, earn No. 2 playoff seeding in NFC

Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took care of their own business, the defending Super Bowl champions permitted themselves to become scoreboard watchers.

Sunday’s 41-17 rout of the Carolina Panthers set a franchise record for regular-season victories, and the win — coupled with the Rams losing to the 49ers in overtime — also gave the Bucs (13-4) the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.

Tampa Bay will host Philadelphia in the wild-card round next week. Earning the No. 2 seed ensures a second home game in two weeks if the Bucs beat the Eagles.

Tom Brady’s not looking ahead, though.

“It just felt good to win today. Whatever happened with other teams, you can’t ever control any of those things. Even for the next game. … you’re worrying about two games from now. I’m not worried about two games from now, I’m worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles,” Brady said.

“I don’t care if the Rams would’ve won … that’s alright, we’ve still got the Eagles and that’s going to be the biggest game of our season,” Brady added.

“If we win, whoever we play, wherever we play, we’re still going, and that’s what we want to do.” Brady topped 5,000 yards passing for the second time in his career, joining Drew Brees as the only players in NFL history with multiple 5,000-yard seasons.

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“We had to do what we had to do,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had seven receptions for 137 yards.

“That’s what really matters,” Gronkowski added. “We did what we had to do, and the rest took care of itself.”

Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns before taking the last half of the fourth quarter off, finishing with a career-best 5,316 yards passing and a Bucs single-season record 43 TD passes for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Mike Evans caught two of Brady’s TD passes, giving him a club-record 14 scoring receptions this year.

He also became the first player in NFL history to start a career with eight consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

Tampa Bay broke the club record for victories in a regular season set in 2002, when the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl for the first time.

Carolina (5-12) finished on a seven-game losing streak that leaves coach Matt Rhule’s future in question. The Panthers are 10-23 in two seasons under the former Temple and Baylor coach, who signed a seven-year contract to move to the NFL in 2020.

The Panthers wasted a chance to go up by double digits, turning the ball over on downs at the Tampa Bay 1 before the Brady turned the game around with an eight-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minute of the first half.

Completions of 37 yards to Evans, 19 yards to Gronkowski and 24 yards to Breshad Perriman helped Brady move into position to give his team a 10-7 halftime lead with a 1-yard TD pass to Le’Veon Bell.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter built the lead to 17-7. Evans caught TD passes of 3 and 20 yards, and receiver Scotty Miller scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Bucs.

Darnold completed 29 of 42 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Panthers, who fell to 0-4 against Tampa Bay under Rhule and have been outscored 150-63 by their NFC South rival in those matches.

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Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey injures hamstring, ruled out for game

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of Thursday night’s match at Houston.

The injury occurred when McCaffrey was making a run to the left on first-and-10 from the Texans’ 14-yard line. He did what appeared to be a stutter step to avoid the defender and went immediately to the sideline after a 2-yard gain.

McCaffrey stayed in the sideline medical tent for 22 minutes before emerging and heading to the locker room. He walked under his own power with a slight limp.

McCaffrey was replaced by Chuba Hubbard, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State.

McCaffrey, who in 2019 became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, entered the game as the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 324 yards.

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McCaffrey missed 13 games last campaign with multiple injuries, including a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2.

He returned this season looking stronger than ever.

He left late in the third quarter of last week’s victory against the New Orleans Saints to get a couple of IV bags for what he called “onset cramps.” He said earlier this week he was good go to.

On Thursday night, Carolina’s offense struggled after McCaffrey’s departure and went into halftime with only a 7-6 lead. Quarterback Sam Darnold, who completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 121 yards with no sacks before McCaffrey’s injury, finished the half 4-of-7 for 37 yards with three sacks.

McCaffrey’s value as a blocker often gets overlooked. In the Panthers’ opener, he saved Darnold from a sack by picking up the New York Jets’ tackle running free. The block allowed Darnold time to step up and to his left to throw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson.

“That play doesn’t happen [without McCaffrey],” coach Matt Rhule said after the 19-14 victory.

Tight end Dan Arnold said McCaffrey helps open up all the possibilities of offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s offense.

“We kind of stopped as a tight end group [in film review] and said, ‘This is the kind of player he is,'” Arnold said after seeing the replay of McCaffrey’s block.

“It’s exciting to be able to play with a guy like that, that will step in front of it no matter what. He wants to win, not only for himself, but everybody else. “On the flip side, that’s what he demands from everybody else.”

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Carolina Panthers release DT Kawann Short

Kawann Short has been around the NFL long enough to realize what happens to guys as they age, stack up injuries, and get expensive.

Tuesday, it happened.

The Panthers released the veteran defensive tackle Tuesday, starting the process of clearing up some cap space.

They’ll save $8.6 million worth of room with the move, which will come in handy. With the salary cap for 2021 dropping from $198.2 million to $175 million (though it could rise slightly in the coming weeks), every dollar is going to count this offseason.

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This was a predictable move, and Short seemed to realize it

Explaining at the end of the season that he knew his combination of age, recent injuries, and finances made this likely.

“We’re all grown here. So you know what it is,” Short said the day after the season. “This is a ‘what can you do for me now’ business, so for me to have injuries back to back, it definitely put that in your head, whether the team wants you or not.”

The 32-year-old Short has played in just five games the last two seasons because of shoulder problems and had the second-highest cap number on the roster for 2021, making the move inevitable.

When healthy, he was a steady producer for the Panthers with 32.5 sacks in his first six seasons. And they’ll clearly need to find someone who can do what he did when well, as coaches have identified adding a three-technique defensive tackle spot as a priority.

Converted defensive end Efe Obada was useful there last season, second on the team with 5.5 sacks, but they’d like to find a productive starter to continue to use him as a reserve.

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Redskins get QB Kyle Allen in trade with Panthers

The Redskins have been talking about trades when it comes to Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar, but on Monday, the team in fact completed a deal.

Washington acquired quarterback Kyle Allen from Carolina and sent a fifth-round pick to the Panthers in return for the passer, according to NFL Network reports. 

After some rumors about Cam Newton, the Burgundy and Gold landed a far less famous signal caller from Ron Rivera’s former franchise, but one that makes a lot of sense for his new one.

Allen, who just turned 24 years old, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018 out of the University of Houston after initially starting his college career at Texas A&M.

Allen started the 2018 campaign finale for the Panthers and started 12 more contests in 2019 in place of an injured Newton, before ceding the job to Will Grier for the final few weeks.

He concluded last year with a 5-7 record and a passer rating of 80. He threw 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and completed 62-percent of his passes.

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This trade gives the Redskins someone who’ll be very familiar with Rivera and Scott Turner’s plan on offense, something that could be even more valuable than normal thanks to the unusual offseason that may be ahead for the NFL. 

The trade also should put to rest any question of Dwayne Haskins’ status on the depth chart.

While Allen definitely flourished at times in Carolina — his best pro games top Haskins’ best — and he should be able to give some level of heat on Washington’s first-rounder, it’s hard to imagine him beating Haskins out as of now.

Some will take issue with the Redskins swapping a fifth-rounder for Allen — the Panthers had a surplus of signal callers after adding XFL star PJ Walker earlier Monday — but it’s a move that they clearly felt like they had to make before a possible release.

Washington now has a young, ideal backup in place who should be able to fill in for Haskins if need be, but overall, can move forward with Haskins as their No. 1 QB. Rivera may not come out and declare that, but his actions definitely indicate it.

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