How the Baker Mayfield trade to Panthers shakes up NFC South

The Panthers have reportedly traded for the former No. 1 overall draft pick. How does this news affect the Falcons? 

FILE - Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Jan. 3, 2022, in Pittsburgh. Mayfield's rocky run with Cleveland officially ended Wednesday, July 6, 2022, with the Browns trading the divisive quarterback and former No. 1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

The quarterback carousel of the 2022 offseason continues to spin as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday afternoon that the Carolina Panthers have acquired quarterback Baker Mayfield in a trade.

Per the initial report, the Panthers traded a 2024 conditional 5th-round draft pick to the Browns for the former No. 1 overall draft pick of 2018. The deal is pending a physical, and both organizations split the financial responsibilities of Mayfield's current contract to make it happen.

This news comes after a lengthy saga involving the Browns acquisition of Deshaun Watson this offseason. As the Browns went after Watson, Mayfield reportedly became disgruntled with the direction the organization was heading, ultimately requesting a trade after Watson initially eliminated the Browns from consideration. However, when Watson changed his mind and ended up agreeing to terms with the Browns, the Mayfield era in Cleveland essentially ended.

Since then, the Browns have taken calls and received offers for Mayfield. Nothing stuck until Wednesday with the Panthers' offer. Now Mayfield heads to the NFC South where he will face the Falcons twice, once at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during Week 8 and again two weeks later as the Thursday night game of Week 10.

This trade calls into question what direction the Panthers want to go at the quarterback position. They still have Sam Darnold on the roster. He, like Mayfield, is on the fifth (and final) year of his contract. Carolina also drafted quarterback Matt Corral in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. With Mayfield in the room, the expectation would likely be that he would take over the starting job this season, as Carolina has made it no secret they were in need of a more stable solution at quarterback this offseason. In fact, they've relentlessly pursued a few quarterback candidates over the last couple years.

With Mayfield in Carolina, he adds another layer of mystery to the division that's experienced a great deal of turnover over the course of this offseason. From the Falcons and the trade of Matt Ryan, to Sean Payton's retirement in New Orleans, to Tom Brady retiring... and then not... in Tampa Bay, to the Panthers, Saints and Falcons being in on Watson negotiations, this Mayfield news is just another domino falling in a very wild offseason for the NFC South.


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