Delhomme: Sam Darnold, not Baker Mayfield, has upper-hand in Panthers' QB battle


When the Carolina Panthers start training camp later this month, there'll be an open quarterback competition between a pair of players on fifth-year options, who were also taken within the first three picks of the 2018 draft. By acquiring Baker Mayfield in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last week, the former top overall pick will soon play alongside Sam Darnold, and general manager Scott Fitterer recently told reporters that Mayfield will have to earn the starting role.

Carolina is reportedly paying Mayfield $4.8 million of the $18.8 million he's set to earn this coming season, and Cleveland's responsible for $10.5 million. The 27-year-old also agreed to a $3.5 million pay cut, but contract incentives allow him to earn lost money. The Panthers are just the second team in the league's common draft era (since 1967) to feature a pair of quarterbacks taken with the top-three overall picks on the same roster. But, is Darnold actually the favorite to start in Week 1 against the Browns? Jake Delhomme believes so.

"The only thing working against [Mayfield] is, this is late, very late in the year. And not having any familiarity with Ben McAdoo's offense. And that's a tough task," the former Panthers quarterback explained to The Zach Gelb Show on Wednesday. "So, Darnold does have the upper-hand for the last few months, being introduced to the offense. And not only that, but the players. The one thing working in Baker's favor, James Campen, the new offensive line coach, was with him in Cleveland.

"So some of that offensive line language and speak, Baker will probably have some recollection of that. But, that's a difficult task, of not knowing anybody and the plays. It's one thing to know the plays, but until you start to know the players and their body language -- how they move, come in and out of routes, things of that nature -- that's a tall task. I understand the juicy storyline. Week 1 is against Cleveland, and everybody's going to want to see it... People might not want to hear this: Darnold does have the upper-hand, going into camp."

The entire NFL conversation between Delhomme and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.