Baker Mayfield was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and finished as the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting. He also set a rookie touchdown passing record that season.
But he failed to build on his rookie campaign. Although he led them to a 11-5 record in the 2020 season and ended Cleveland's postseason drought, his time with the franchise was underwhelming overall.
He played through injury last year and managed just six wins as the Browns missed the playoffs once again. Cleveland decided to move on from the former Sooner in the offseason, trading for Deshaun Watson before parting ways with Mayfield.
One former teammate of Mayfield's has sympathized with what the quarterback went through in Cleveland. On Sportskeeda's Inside the Huddle podcast, Jaelen Strong said Mayfield did a fantastic job with the Browns.
"Of course. I mean, Baker did a tremendous job. Like I said earlier, we can't totally control everything. Baker has to know that he did a tremendous job and he's done everything he could do there. He came and worked every day."
Strong went on to say that most of what happened was beyond the quarterback's control, but that a new opportunity with a team that wants him will be good:
"Whatever happened after that is out of control... So now he's looking forward to competing for a starting job in Carolina and I love that energy down there. So I think people will be excited. I think he's ready."
Mayfield could start for his new team, the Carolina Panthers, against Cleveland in Week 1.
How Baker Mayfield helps the Carolina Panthers
Since their befuddling decision to cut Cam Newton in 2019, the Carolina Panthers have had zero success at the quarterback position. They cycled through Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Cam Newton a second time trying, and failing, to find stability.
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Mayfield is a definite improvement over Darnold and will have a chance to prove that this coming season.
The Panthers have weapons. If Christian McCaffrey can stay healthy, and DJ Moore and Robby Anderson play at a decent level, the Panthers have a shot at making the postseason.
The defense is also young and talented and will be getting last year's top pick Jaycee Horn back.
Coach Matt Rhule and company haven't really had a quarterback they trust, so this year is make or break for them.
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