Former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield speaks to the crowd at Owen Field on April 23 in Norman.

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Panthers GM: ‘Open competition’ at quarterback

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said Tuesday that the starting quarterback position will be an open competition between newly acquired Baker Mayfield and incumbent Sam Darnold.

Fitterer made the comments during an introductory press conference for Mayfield, who the Panthers acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last week.

“This is an open competition. The reason why we added Baker is to make the group better as a whole,” Fitterer said.

For his part, Mayfield said he’s happy for a “fresh start,” though he said taking a $3.5 million pay cut to facilitate the trade “wasn’t easy.”

“There was a little bit of sacrifice on all three fronts, between Cleveland, Carolina, and myself,” Mayfield said. “To me, it’s ready for a fresh start first and foremost. I’m extremely grateful for the four years I had in Cleveland, it’s a great football town.

“… But when it came down to it, it was wanting a fresh start, wanting to be with a coach and a GM that truly wanted me,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said he and Darnold have already chatted.

“Sam reached out, got my number first,” Mayfield said. “Sam just wants to win. That’s just who he is. Our personalities might be different, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the same goal, and that’s to win and help this team out.”

Darnold was selected No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in 2018 — the same year the Browns took Mayfield No. 1.

“I’m really looking forward to being in that room with him and just challenging each other and elevating each other.”

Fitterer said the Panthers and Browns had been discussing a trade since the draft but that Mayfield’s contract situation was the biggest obstacle.

The Browns are paying $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary while the Panthers are picking up $4.85 million, per reports. Mayfield was set to earn $18.85 million this season on his fifth-year option.

The Browns get either a fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2024. Mayfield needs to play 70 percent of the snaps for it to become a fourth-rounder.

Mayfield said he made a deal with Panthers punter Johnny Hekker for the No. 6 jersey.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers OC declares Sam Darnold starting QB, backtracks

New Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said Tuesday that Sam Darnold would be the team’s starting quarterback in 2022 before backtracking, acknowledging that he “just put my foot in my mouth.”

McAdoo, the former head coach of the New York Giants, made the comments during a Zoom interview with reporters after being asked if Darnold would be the Panthers’ starter.

“Sam is our starting quarterback, yes,” said McAdoo, who was hired in January to replace Joe Brady as OC.

McAdoo then backtracked, acknowledging that Carolina head coach Matt Rhule might have something to say about the team’s starter.

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

It was McAdoo’s first interview since being hired.

Darnold went 4-7 as the starter last season, his first in Carolina. He threw nine touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Darnold spent his first three seasons in New York after the Jets selected him No. 3 overall in the 2018 draft.

Overall, he is 17-32 as a starting QB and has thrown for 10,624 yards with 54 TDs and 52 INTs.

“Sam does have some magic in his game,” McAdoo said. “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.”

McAdoo was the Giants’ offensive coordinator from 2014-15 and was named head coach in New York before the 2016 season. The Giants were 11-5 in 2016, but when they plummeted to 2-10 the following season, McAdoo was fired before his second season was over.

After he and New York parted ways, McAdoo worked as the quarterbacks coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020 and spent 2021 as a consultant with the Dallas Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) on the sidelines in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers GM on Cam Newton: ‘We’ll see where it goes’

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said Sam Darnold remains on target to be the team’s starting quarterback next season, but that doesn’t mean the door is closed on Cam Newton.

“The thing with Cam is it’s got to be a fit for us and it’s got to be a fit for him just as well,” Fitterer said Friday. “He’s looking for a certain opportunity. And the door’s still open for us. We’re very open to Cam. We’ll see where it goes. He knows where we stand. I think he and Matt (Rhule) had a really good conversation, from my understanding. So we’ll just see where it goes.”

Darnold started 11 games in 2021 for the Panthers, who lost 12 of their final 14 games to finish with a 5-12 record. The 24-year-old completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He rushed for five scores as well.

Newton, 32, was signed on Nov. 12 and went 0-5 as the team’s starter. The former NFL MVP has completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards with four scores and five interceptions. He also rushed for 230 yards and five touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers to start QB Sam Darnold against Saints

Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold will start Sunday at New Orleans, Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday.

Darnold started the first nine games this season before going on injured reserve with a broken shoulder blade.

He returned to action last Sunday, relieving Cam Newton and completing 15 of 32 passes for 190 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 32-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Darnold, 24, is 4-5 as Carolina’s starter and has completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards with seven TDs and 11 interceptions. He has also rushed for 196 yards and five touchdowns.

Newton, 32, was signed on Nov. 12 after Darnold’s injury and is 0-5 as the starter. He has completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards with four scores and five picks. The former NFL MVP has rushed for 225 yards and five touchdowns.

Backup QB P.J. Walker was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday along with pass rusher Haason Reddick.

After visiting the Saints (7-8) in Week 17, the Panthers (5-10) will close out the season at Tampa Bay on Jan. 9.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (90) looks on against the New York Giants during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers’ Jason Pierre-Paul out, Panthers’ Sam Darnold active

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday listed outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul will not play in Sunday game against the Carolina Panthers because of ongoing struggles with a torn rotator cuff.

The Panthers were able to activate quarterback Sam Darnold from his shoulder injury and expect him to be ready to see action behind current starter Cam Newton.

Pierre-Paul, 32, injured his shoulder in the earlier the year, posting about it on social media Sept. 23, following a Week 2 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

In November, Pierre-Paul called his torn rotator cuff the “worst” injury of his career, though the three-time Pro Bowler has missed just two games because of it, in Weeks 3 and 4.

Darnold, 24, went on the injured reserve list prior to the Panthers’ Week 10 game with the Arizona Cardinals and has been out ever since, missing five games.

After sustaining his injury against the Atlanta Falcons Oct. 3, Darnold had one of his worst games as a professional against the New England Patriots on Nov. 11, completing just 16 of 33 passes for 172 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns. He was shut down the following week.

Also on Saturday, the Panthers activated defensive tackle Derrick Brown from the reserve/COVID-19 list and placed cornerback Rashaan Melvin on that same list.

They also promoted five players from the practice squad: offensive lineman Mike Horton, running back Reggie Bonnafon, cornerback Madre Harper and tight end Stephen Sullivan (COVID-19 elevations) and defensive lineman Frank Herron (standard).

The Buccaneers activated running back Kenjon Barner, wide receiver Cyril Grayson and punter Sterling Hofrichter from the practice squad via COVID replacement, while also elevating defensive lineman Benning Potoa’e.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers won’t name starter, Sam Darnold likely to practice

After four consecutive defeats, the Carolina Panthers have not committed to a quarterback this week and could welcome back Sam Darnold into the fray.

Darnold has been out since a Week 9 shoulder injury, with the Panthers going 1-4 in his absence. Cam Newton was signed by the Panthers on Nov. 12 and has started each of the last four games, but has been ineffective in the passing game.

The Panthers are just 5-9 and guaranteed to finish with a fourth consecutive losing season.

With Darnold set to see a doctor Monday and possibly get clearance to return to the field, head coach Matt Rhule declined to say Monday who his quarterback will be for Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“If Sam is healthy, we will practice him and see kind of where he’s at,” Rhule told reporters Monday. “I think it’s a good opportunity to shake some of the rust off him and see where he’s at in the process. I can’t speculate who will be the full-time guy until we have some more information.”

Newton has not thrown for 190 yards in any of the four games he has started. He played his first nine seasons with the team, guiding them to the Super Bowl in 2015, after he was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011.

Newton, 32, has been effective running the ball, with a rushing touchdown in each of the last four games, to go along with 71 rushing yards against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. But he has also fumbled four times in the past two weeks, losing one, and has thrown four interceptions in the last three games.

Darnold, 24, helped the Panthers to a 3-0 start, but that was followed by a four-game losing streak. He threw for 1,986 yards in nine games, with seven TDs, but also threw 11 interceptions.

Until Darnold gets clearance, the Panthers will have to look for improvement from Newton.

“We’ll continue to coach Cam, and continue to build off the good things he’s doing,” Rhule said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers place QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) on injured reserve

The Carolina Panthers placed Sam Darnold on injured reserve Friday, one day after they signed fellow quarterback Cam Newton to a contract.

Coach Matt Rhule said Darnold will be out at least four weeks with an injured throwing shoulder. Darnold was diagnosed earlier this week with an incomplete scapula fracture.

P.J. Walker is expected to start the Panthers’ game against the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Walker, 26, won his only previous NFL start last season, completing 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Carolina’s 20-0 defeat of the Detroit Lions on Nov. 22, 2020.

After a 3-0 start, the Panthers have lost five of their past six, including a 24-6 defeat to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Darnold went 16-for-33 passing in that game with 172 yards, three interceptions and zero touchdowns.

Carolina acquired Darnold in April from the New York Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. They later shipped Teddy Bridgewater to Denver, lining Darnold up to earn his place as the franchise quarterback.

Darnold, 24, has started all nine games for Carolina in 2021 and has thrown for 1,986 yards, seven touchdowns and a league high-tying 11 interceptions with a 59.5 percent completion rate.

The Jets selected Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass as New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) and middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) pressure in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Panthers lose QB Sam Darnold for several weeks, sign Matt Barkley

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to miss several weeks after tests revealed he has an incomplete scapula fracture in his throwing shoulder, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, NFL Network also reported that Carolina would sign quarterback Matt Barkley off the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad.

Darnold entered concussion protocol after absorbing a big hit during a Week 8 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He was cleared in time for the next game, but according to NFL Network, the hit likely caused Darnold’s shoulder injury as well.

PJ Walker is the No. 2 QB behind Darnold on Carolina’s depth chart. A former XFL star, Walker relieved Darnold in the Panthers’ Week 7 loss to the New York Giants last month and went 3-for-14 passing for 33 yards, taking three sacks.

After a 3-0 start, the Panthers have lost five of their last six, including a 24-6 defeat to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Darnold went 16-for-33 in that game with 172 yards, three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Cameras caught teammate Robby Anderson visibly upset and shouting at Darnold.

Carolina acquired Darnold in April from the New York Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. They later shipped Teddy Bridgewater to Denver, lining Darnold up to earn his place as the franchise quarterback.

Darnold has started all nine games for Carolina in 2021 and has thrown for 1,986 yards, seven touchdowns and a league-high 11 interceptions with a 59.5 percent completion rate.

Walker is expected to start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, NFL Network reported.

Barkley, 31, has appeared in 19 games for the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-14), Chicago Bears (2016) and Buffalo Bills (2018-20), mostly in a backup capacity. He made six of his seven career starts for the Bears in 2016. Barkley owns a 58.4 career completion percentage and a 1-to-2 TD-INT ratio (11 touchdowns, 22 picks).

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) on the bench in the closing minutes after losing to New England Patriots during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers QB Sam Darnold can add MRI to list of issues

It has not been a stellar 24 hours for Carolina Panthers starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

After throwing three interceptions in Carolina’s loss to the New England Patriots, Darnold got dressed down by wide receiver Robby Anderson on the sideline, will need an MRI on his ailing throwing shoulder and did not get a vote of confidence from his head coach.

In announcing the upcoming MRI for Darnold, Matt Rhule said Monday that he doesn’t think Darnold’s injury led to the picks.

“When I look at the tape I see two bad decisions on turnovers,” Rhule told reporters.

Rhule demurred when asked if Darnold was the right QB for the team.

“Right now we’re focused on him and his health,” said Rhule, who said Sunday he wanted to watch tape before making “some big statement” about the future of Darnold vs. Carolina’s primary backup, P.J. Walker.

“We can’t have the quarterback throwing the ball up in the air. He knows that. I know that. … We just can’t keep doing this,” Rhule said Sunday. “But I need to see everything before I can probably answer that better.”

Anderson gave Darnold an earful on the sideline Sunday after throwing his third pick of the game in a 24-6 loss. Darnold also has 10 interceptions in the last six games.

“The same way if I’m slacking, I need somebody to tell me that,” Anderson said. “We hold each other accountable. That’s part of it, part of somebody being your brother, telling them what they don’t want to hear sometimes.”

Darnold finished 16-of-33 passing for 172 yards and no touchdowns against the Patriots. The shoulder injury occurred in the team’s Week 8 win over Atlanta. Darnold took a big hit on a running play in the red zone and came away with a concussion and a banged-up right shoulder.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) hands the ball off to running back Christian McCaffrey (22) in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers activate Christian McCaffrey; Sam Darnold clears protocol

The Carolina Panthers activated star running back Christian McCaffrey from injured reserve on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold was cleared from concussion protocol.

Darnold, who is also nursing a shoulder injury, is expected to be a game-time decision to start Sunday’s contest against the New England Patriots (4-4).

P.J. Walker would start for the Panthers (4-4) if Darnold is unable to play.

McCaffrey was designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday, thereby activating a 21-day window for the club to activate him or lose him for the rest of the season.

McCaffrey has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Carolina’s 24-9 victory over the Houston Texans on Sept. 23. He resumed practicing in a limited capacity before the Panthers elected to place him on injured reserve on Oct. 16.

An All-Pro in 2019, McCaffrey has 52 carries for 201 yards and a touchdown to go along with 16 receptions for 163 yards in three games this season. He played only three games in 2020 due to a high ankle sprain and a shoulder injury.

Darnold was placed in concussion protocol after he was injured on a rush during the fourth quarter of Carolina’s 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

Darnold completed 13 of 24 passes for 129 yards and rushed eight times for 66 yards prior to the injury. The 24-year-old has passed for 1,814 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

–Field Level Media