Baker Mayfield adjusting to life as a backup

Baker Mayfield, Panthers. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Baker Mayfield, Panthers. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Baker Mayfield had his share of struggles with the Cleveland Browns but was a starter ever since he stepped on the field. Now he’s adjusting to a new role in Carolina.

Baker Mayfield spent four seasons with the Cleveland Browns after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2018 out of Oklahoma. He spent his first two games with them as a backup but then took over for Tyrod Taylor in the middle of his third game in the NFL.

The rookie led his team to their first win in 635 days and never lost the starting job. Even through a frustrating 2021 campaign, he remained the starter until he was finally traded to the Carolina Panthers.

After winning the job over Sam Darnold with Carolina, Mayfield struggled and eventually lost his spot to P.J. Walker who outplayed Mayfield while he was out with a foot injury. Now as the No. 2 guy, Mayfield said he’s simply finding his “way through it.”

Carolina was 1-4 with Mayfield under center, including a narrow loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, thanks to a 58-yard kick at the buzzer from Cade York. He completed a career-low 54.9 percent of his throws with four touchdowns and four picks.

There was also a major issue with batted balls as the line struggled to keep defensive linemen out of his face — and they were able to take advantage of his size.

Baker Mayfield recently claimed he was comfortable as the underdog

The one good thing for Mayfield is that he himself has said he’s comfortable when his back is against the wall. It was just a few weeks ago when he last made such a statement but a lot has changed since then.

Head coach Matt Rhule was fired and P.J. Walker led them to an impressive win over Tampa Bay. And while they lost to Atlanta in his third start, he still had 317 yards passing — which tops any single game for Mayfield this season.

Tough road ahead for No. 6

Mayfield didn’t sound overly comfortable in his new role when speaking with reporters and it’s hard to blame him. He’s used to being the guy under center, so it has to be humbling for him to sit and watch.

Making matters worse, he’s set for free agency in the offseason and has done nothing to help his stock. It’s not going to be easy for him to find another opportunity to start and unless he’s willing to embrace the life of a backup quarterback, it could be hard for him going forward.