Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were selected first and third overall, respectively, in the 2018 NFL Draft, and now fate has pitted them against each other as they both bid to resuscitate their fledgling careers.
Both signal-callers have landed in Carolina, where they are competing for the starting gig. And, according to a new report, Mayfield has the "inside track" on the job in the early going at Panthers camp.
"Baker's got the leg up here," Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said on the Pat McAfee Show on Monday. "I would say he's got the inside track to win the job. He had a really nice day today. He's done a good job as far as understanding things, kind of fitting right in, taking control a little bit. I would say if it continues in this direction, then ... if it all progresses like this, I would say Mayfield's going to be the starter."
Also according to Rapoport, a Monday morning report suggesting Darnold was being "shopped" by the Panthers was unfounded.
"I don't think Darnold's going to be on the trade block -- I don't think anyone would trade for him, honestly. When you have that salary for a backup quarterback, they would have to eat significant salary, and if you're going to do that, why wouldn't you just keep him as your backup. I mean, if you're going to pay him, just keep him. And he's somebody who's started, so if something does happen to Baker Mayfield, he's a perfect guy to slot in there."
The Darnold trade report -- subsequently retracted -- became a topic at Panthers camp on Monday. Darnold said he was assured after practice by Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer that there was no fire behind the smoke.
“I talked to Scott and he said not to worry about it,” Darnold told reporters. “So, to be honest, before he even talked to me, I didn’t even see it. So, like I said, like I continue to say, I’m going to continue to do me and do what I can to put myself in a good position and put this team in a good position.”
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has said the team will name its tentative starter after its second preseason game. Also lurking on the QB depth chart is third-stringer Matt Corral, a third-round pick in this year's draft.