Skip to main content

Panthers release Baker Mayfield; could Niners claim QB off waivers?

Baker Mayfield's bye week ended with a fresh need for a moving truck.

The Panthers released the quarterback on Monday morning, the team announced. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport first reported the roster news, and Mayfield will now hit the waiver wire.

Mayfield's release came at the request of the 27-year-old, but there's plenty to unpack regarding his departure, starting with an underwhelming tenure as Carolina's starting quarterback. The Panthers acquired Mayfield in July at what was considered to be the cheap price of a conditional fifth-round pick, giving Carolina its starting QB after a hollow training camp competition with Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker.

Mayfield never got settled with the Panthers, though, struggling to elevate the offense in his first five games of 2022 -- a losing stretch that cost head coach Matt Rhule his job -- and landing on the bench due to injury in Week 6. A week later, he was demoted in favor of Walker, spending the next two weeks as the former XFL star's backup before returning to the field in the second half of a blowout loss to Cincinnati in Week 9.

Mayfield made one more start in Week 11, throwing two interceptions in a loss to Baltimore before Carolina interim head coach Steve Wilks decided to go in a different direction, replacing him with a healthy Darnold for Week 12. Two weeks later, Mayfield was out of a job.

"I wouldn't say {Mayfield] failed here," Wilks told reporters on Monday. "It just didn't work out."

The Panthers will start Darnold moving forward with Walker as the No. 2 QB.

Intrigue remains in the days ahead for Mayfield, who could move to an NFC West team in need. San Francisco lost starter Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending foot injury on Sunday and has only rookie Brock Purdy left to handle the quarterback duties moving forward. Although Purdy led the 49ers to a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, it's certainly not unrealistic to expect 49ers general manager John Lynch to attempt to claim Mayfield via waivers.

Asked Monday if he would consider signing Mayfield, Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team looks into everything and would talk about it, but he "feels pretty good with where we're at right now," per NBC's Matt Maiocco.

Mayfield could also land with the Los Angeles Rams, who placed Matthew Stafford on injured reserve over the weekend and have been trudging into December with a combination of John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. The Rams are essentially out of contention in the NFC, but could score a victory by claiming Mayfield -- a veteran who is likely a better option than both Wolford and Perkins -- and preventing him from joining the rival 49ers.

Mayfield's struggles aren't a recent development. The quarterback's tenure in Cleveland came to an unceremonious conclusion following a disappointing 2021 campaign in which Mayfield played through multiple injuries and found himself in an indirect, but public conflict with star receiver Odell Beckham, leading to the star wideout's in-season release.

Beckham would go on to join the Rams and win Super Bowl. The same cannot be expected for Mayfield, should he end up in Los Angeles.

San Francisco, however, presents a different potential outcome. The 49ers own the NFL's best defense and are basking in the glow of an excellent showing against the high-powered Dolphins, a win that should alert the rest of the NFL to their potential as a title contender.

For Mayfield, the choice is out of his hands. Waiver order and the interest of teams will ultimately decide where he lands next.

The football world can agree, though, that Mayfield wasted his opportunity to revive his reputation as a starting quarterback during his time with the Panthers. We'll see if he receives another shot with a contender in 2022 -- or ends up taking snaps with a squad that added him simply because he's better than the alternative.

Related Content