Sam Darnold says he, Baker Mayfield is ‘cool’ with rivalry to become Carolina Panthers starting QB

Spartanburg, South Carolina – The Carolina Panthers turned the heat on Sam Darnold earlier this month when they traded Baker Mayfield to compete for the first quarterback job, but as far as Darnold is concerned, the two are “cool” at battling them.

“When things start to turn around at training camp, it’s going to be fun to be able to compete and have fun with it,” Darnold said on Tuesday as the Panthers reported at camp and Ford College. “At the end of the day, this is a business and we both take our craft and what we do very seriously.

“So it’s going to be dangerous when that time comes to compete, but off the field and all that stuff, Becker and I are really cool.”

It was the first time Darnold had spoken to the media since the Panthers traded a conditional 2024 draft of Cleveland for Mayfield, which became expendable after the Cleveland Browns traded the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson.

This reunited the 2018 top pick (Mayfield) with the third overall pick (Darnold).

Both have been full-time regulars since entering the league, Mayfield with Cleveland and Darnold with the New York Jets and Panthers. They still consider themselves freshmen despite the announcement of the Cheetahs as an “open” competition for the job.

“We both think he’s the key midfielder for this team now,” Darnold said. “And that’s how we’re going to see it. So it’s just about getting out there and competing, and that’s going to be fun.”

Coach Matt Rolle said the competition will be good for the Carolina team, which has had four starting players in the past two seasons.

He doesn’t have a deadline for when he’d like to name a rookie, only that he’d like to know through the September 11 opener against Cleveland.

“Anytime you make schedules for things, you end up rushing and making bad decisions,” Reul said on Tuesday. “For me, it’s a lot more about being in the moment and not making reckless judgments.”

Darnold agreed that the competition would be good for the team — and for him.

“It’s not really my job I’m trying to understand or evaluate why [the trade was made]He said, “For me it is about the competition. At the end of the day, we all want to win as the Panthers. We are all on the same team. And they will do what they feel is best for the team to win the ball games this year.

“If it brings B Becker and I to him and jostle with each other to take the fight to the top job, that’s the best thing for the team.”

Darnold was actually among the first to contact Mayfield after the trade. He was asked to participate in a pre-camp workout with Christian McCaffrey and the other Carolina players back in the Charlotte area.

It happened this past weekend, and it included dinner and group bonding sessions at McCaffrey’s Lake Norman home.

“I don’t think anyone here likes to feel awkward or be in an awkward position,” Darnold said. “There will be plenty of time for that when the training camp starts and we can really start competing.

“When I heard the news, you know, it took me a few days to decompress and sort of absorb all the information I could get. I talked to the coach about it and then I got in touch with Becker and told him about the little throwing session we had.”

Darnold said the interaction with Mayfield has been “very friendly” so far.

McCaffrey loves the dynamic between his midfielders.

“These guys are professionals,” he said. “They are great players who have seen a lot in this league. They are both hungry. They both have huge chips on their shoulders. They will compete with respect.”

Darnold was 4-7 last season in the Carolinas and was 17-32 overall at the start of the NFL. Mayfield was 6-8 last season in Cleveland and was 29-30 overall.

They are both in the fifth and final year of their rookie deals, so they are playing for their future.

“Anytime you bring someone of a competitive level to Baker the way he competes there on Sundays, and not just on Sundays but also on the training ground, that can just help the room,” Darnold said. “And it can only help our team.”

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