After many weeks of rumors and reports, quarterback Baker Mayfield was finally traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional fifth-round pick. This was a huge win for Carolina and another prime example of Cleveland being the same old franchise.

The Super Bowl lines have not changed much recently even after the trade. If Baker Mayfield was a much better quarterback, then it would have changed the Panthers’ odds even more. Meanwhile, it didn’t even move the Browns’ odds. So what’s next after this summer blockbuster?

Mayfield Replacing Darnold

With Mayfield on this roster, the Panthers are going to be more competent offensively. Mayfield is a major upgrade over Sam Darnold, Carolina’s starting QB last season. Darnold was taken third overall by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft, two spots after Mayfield was drafted by Cleveland.

The question now is if Darnold will be on the roster come opening day or if he’s traded. Darnold is probably going to want to be a starting quarterback, but his career might be suited for a backup role. The Super Bowl odds for the Panthers are very low for now, but they could very well change if they play well with Mayfield this season.

Panthers’ Outlook With Mayfield

Carolina does not play in a very strong NFC South division. Mayfield feels like he is a capable starting quarterback, but he couldn’t compete with the elite quarterbacks in the AFC.

However, the Panthers might be set for the long run. After this season, Tom Brady might be retiring for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jameis Winston might not be the right player for the New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons are rebuilding.

Mayfield will be working with Matt Rhule as his head coach instead of Kevin Stefanski. The offensive with Carolina will look decent, with Christian McCaffrey and Chuba Hubbard as the featured running backs and Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Terrance Marshall Jr. at wide receiver. 

A quarterback’s best friend is a tight end, but Mayfield will experience a steep dropoff compared to Cleveland’s TE offering. Tommy Tremble will be the Panthers’ tight end, with Ian Thomas projected to be the backup.

The offensive line situation is not that great in Carolina. Ikey Eknowu was the sixth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of North Carolina State and should start at left tackle.

While owner David Tepper is happy he got Mayfield, the team still drafted Matt Corral in the third round out of Ole Miss. Because of its younger roster and potential QB drama, it’s a challenging decision to bet on Super Bowl odds for Carolina this year.

Browns Facing Questions Marks

Mayfield is a free man now, while the Browns still have to wait and see whether or not quarterback Deshaun Watson is going to be suspended for his off-the-field issues with massage therapists. It appears as if the NFL wants to hand him a year-long or more suspension, which could set Cleveland back for several years.

If Watson is suspended, the Browns are expected to roll with Jacoby Brissett. Ironically, his first start would come against Mayfield and the Panthers in Week 1. This could be Mayfield’s revenge game, which would provide instant excitement. After all, many believe Cleveland did him dirty. 

At the end of the day, Mayfield is going to win this divorce with the Browns and do very well with Carolina. This is going to feel different than when Darnold was acquired since Mayfield is not that reckless with the football and is more accurate than Darnold. It won’t take long for the Panthers to realize the difference between the two quarterbacks.

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