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Carolina Panthers

Baker Mayfield: Panthers are getting the genuine article

Baker Mayfield

CHARLOTTE - The Panthers are ready to embrace all the "fiery" spirit and competitive nature that comes with quarterback Baker Mayfield, general manager Scott Fitterer said Tuesday.

And Mayfield is ready to bring all of his energy to Carolina.

The Panthers' newest quarterback said both Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule made it clear they wanted him to be authentic as he adjusts to his new spot.

That includes Mayfield's emotion and passion – and the obvious personality that emerged during his time in college with Texas Tech and Oklahoma and his four seasons with Cleveland.

"They want me to be myself, a good leader, (and) a great teammate," Mayfield said Tuesday in his first press conference since the trade was made official. "I've always been vocal, able to bring guys and elevate them."

Fitterer said he did his homework on Mayfield and spoke with "as many people" as he could, tracking down those within the Browns organization when he was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. And they're confident his fire is a positive addition to the locker room, and the competition with Sam Darnold for the starting job.

While there were reports this spring that the Browns were looking for an "adult" at the position, Fitterer said he got unsolicited testimonials from former coaches, who called to give positive reviews of the 27-year-old signal-caller looking for a "fresh start" in Charlotte.

"A lot of people really went to bat for Baker," Fitterer said in Tuesday's press conference. "I think there are a lot of circumstances with why things happen … But we're very comfortable with Baker. We're excited to add him to the room and look forward to working with him."

Mayfield will come to Carolina off a year marred by various injuries, Fitterer pointed out, including a non-throwing shoulder injury that required surgery in January. He also dealt with foot and rib injuries last year, but Mayfield said he's cleared and ready to get to training camp, along with some pre-camp throwing with his new teammates.

In his best year (2020), Mayfield led the Browns to their first playoff victory since 1994, though the lack of production last season caused Cleveland to trade for his replacement. Mayfield admitted he was "shocked" by the circumstance of the deal for Deshaun Watson, but hopes that coming here among gives him a chance to prove himself all over again.

And as a former walk-on in college who won a Heisman at Oklahoma, that attitude is likely never going away.

Mayfield said he looks forward to a new setting, but his personal philosophy isn't changing. He said he's looking forward to building on his current bonds and creating new ones within the locker room, hoping to show his new teammates what he's all about.

"Those misinterpretations, or however you want to call it, quite frankly, I don't care," Mayfield said when asked about people misunderstanding his character. "I care about the opinions within our building because we're fighting for the same goal."

Panthers Hall of Honor quarterback Jake Delhomme referred to Mayfield's "moxie" shortly after the quarterback was acquired last week, and Mayfield said he believes that attitude is part of what made him successful.

So why change what makes Mayfield, . . . Mayfield?

"There's balance, but that competitive nature – that'll never go away," he said. "If I do that, then I shouldn't be playing anymore. That's what's helped get me here, and I'll have to continue to do that."

Mayfield played for Cleveland from 2018-21, leading the Browns to a playoff appearance in 2020.

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