Baker Mayfield trade named Panthers' best offseason move

Anthony Rizzuti
Panthers Wire

The Carolina Panthers are going to exit this offseason in much better shape than they entered it in. A handful of transactions—whether they came through free agency, the draft or even trade—now have them set up for a step up from 2021.

But which move stands out as their best?

According to Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger, it’s the one they just made. The salary cap analyst pinpoints Carolina’s trade for quarterback Baker Mayfield as the team’s top investment of the break.

“All Carolina had to give up was a 2024 conditional fifth-round pick that could become a fourth-rounder based on playing time and roughly $5 million in salary,” Spielberger writes. “Since Mayfield and Darnold were taken with the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in the 2018 Draft, Mayfield has earned an 80.0 passing grade compared to Darnold’s 58.5. He has a 6.1% big-time-throw rate (6th) compared to Darnold’s 3.6% (51st).”

FILE - Then-Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) walks off the field after an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland. The Panthers view their starting QB job as an open competition between the newly acquired Baker Mayfield and incumbent Sam Darnold, one that will ultimately be decided at training camp and in preseason games. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko, File)

More:Baker Mayfield trade winners, losers: Who made out best in deal for QB?

Although Mayfield’s long-term status with the organization is far from figured out, the Panthers found themselves quite a bargain for a starting quarterback. He’ll account for just $4.8 million against the cap—the 27th-highest number at the position.

Unfortunately, however, they’ll still have to pay Sam Darnold a guaranteed $18.8 million—the 12th-highest hit amongst all NFL quarterbacks. But, hey, look at it this way—the Panthers will have the No. 1 overall pick and the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 draft locked up for 2022 for less than $25 million combined.