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Sam Darnold on competition with Baker Mayfield: ‘We’re both the starting quarterback for this team right now’

Since Baker Mayfield was traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Carolina Panthers, there has been talk from all sides regarding the starting quarterback competition between the former first overall pick and Sam Darnold. While Mayfield brings a resume with more success than Darnold, the job is far from a hand out for No. 6. 

Mayfield will likely be the starting quarterback when the regular season kicks off, but as of right now, Darnold says the two QBs see it as an even playing field.

“It’s always fun to compete and to be able to have someone to compete with. At the same time, in our eyes, we’re both the starting quarterback for this team right now, and that’s how we’re going to view it,” Darnold said in his first time speaking with the media since the Mayfield trade occurred.

Mayfield has said the competition between the two will make them both better, as they are “challenging each other,” and Darnold seems to agree. 

“Any time you bring someone of Baker’s competitive level — the way he competes out there on Sundays, and not only on Sundays but also on the practice field — it can only help the room, and it can only help our team,” Darnold said.

Head coach Matt Rhule has not definitively declared a starter, and went so far as to say he would not be choosing one, it is the players who will make that decision for him with how they play.

Darnold and Mayfield, both 2018 draft picks, have now officially kicked off the competition as training camp starts.

While there is a job on the line, Darnold says when it comes to an off the field relationship, he and Mayfield have no bad blood. 

“Me and Baker are cool … We’re going to be able to compete and have fun with it. But at the end of the day, this is a business, and we both take our craft and what we do very seriously,” Darnold said. “So it’s going to be very serious when it’s time to compete. But off the field and all that stuff, me and Baker are really cool.”

The team coaches had high praise for Darnold this offseason, commenting on his improvement from a season filled with struggles. 

The Panthers finished 5-12 last season in Darnold’s first year with the team, with the quarterback recording nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions, a passer rating of 71.9 and a completion percentage of 59.9% in his 12 games played.

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