Though Baker Mayfield has been cleared for a return to action, the Carolina Panthers are going to continue starting third-stringer P.J. Walker.
Before the start of the season, the Panthers acquired the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft from the Cleveland Browns for the low price of a 2024 fifth-round pick. Carolina had hoped that he would provide some stability at the game’s most important position, but it simply hasn’t panned out.
Mayfield hasn’t played since suffering a high ankle sprain in the Panthers’ Week 5 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which turned out to be the last game of the Matt Rhule era.
With Walker performing well, Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks has decided to keep Mayfield on the bench.
One could understand disappointment and frustration on Mayfield’s end. But when he spoke to reporters about being on the bench in favor of Walker, the former Cleveland quarterback kept it classy by emphasizing that he’s here to help the team.
Here’s what Mayfield said to say on being the second-stringer, per Ellis L. Williams of The Charlotte Observer:
“I’m rolling with the punches, helping this team out in any way I can. I came here to win. If my role is to help PJ out from the sideline and help this defense out in scout team then I’m gonna do it and I’m gonna do it with everything I can. That’s just who I am.”
Through his first five games as a Panther, Mayfield completed 54.9 percent of his pass attempts for 962 yards, four touchdowns and as many interceptions.
With second-stringer Sam Darnold also sidelined, the Panthers subsequently turned to Walker. He has fared better than Mayfield thus far in 2020, completing 62.5 percent of pass attempts for 614 yards, three touchdowns and one pick.
Walker led the Panthers to a stunning 21-3 home upset over Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7. He had 317 yards and what should have been a game-winning Hail Mary TD to D.J. Moore in last week’s overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
As long as Walker continues to play well, the Panthers will continue to use him at quarterback. Has the 27-year-old Mayfield played his final meaningful snap with Carolina? Only time will tell.