Baker Mayfield joins fellow 2018 draftee Sam Darnold on the Panthers

In less than five years, Mayfield has gone from Heisman Trophy winner to first overall pick to Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up to Cleveland’s savior to feuding with his top wideout to draft bust to fighting for a starting spot with Sam Darnold. It’s been a wild ride.

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It’s funny—Mayfield and Darnold were the first two quarterbacks selected in the 2018 NFL draft. Mayfield was obviously the first overall pick and Darnold was the third pick. Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley separated the two. However, this isn’t the first time the first two quarterbacks taken in the same draft ended up playing on the same team. The last time it happened was in 1991 when 1988 draftees Chris Chandler and Tom Tupa both wound up on the then Phoenix Cardinals. Chandler started the season as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but joined the Cardinals in Week 11, the final game that Tupa started for the Cardinals that year. Chandler would start the final two games of the regular season for Phoenix. That’s not important though.

What is important is how this will affect the Panthers and Browns. The Browns have some enormous balls to pull off a move like this. With the whole Deshaun Watson situation up in the air still, the fact that the Browns were willing to send Mayfield, someone who knows their system and has even led the team to a postseason victory before, away…that’s gutsy, and probably a terrible move given that the next guy in line is Jacoby Brissett. Perhaps the NFL will shift course and decide not to suspend Watson for the entire 2022 season, but even if the suspension is six games, that means Watson would be forced to miss games against the Chargers, Steelers, Patriots, and ironically, the Carolina Panthers (more on that in a second). At best, the Browns could start the season 4-2 then get Watson back for the toughest part of their schedule—at Baltimore, Cincinnati, at Miami, at Buffalo, Tampa Bay, at his former team Houston (gotta have a gimme in there somewhere), at Cincinnati, Baltimore, and New Orleans. Basically, Watson would immediately get thrown into the fire and 4-2 in their first six games might not cut it. Of course, this is all under the presumption that Watson is only suspended for six games, which seems highly unlikely at this point. Anything more and Browns’ fans can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.

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As for the Panthers, Mayfield is a marginal upgrade over Darnold. However, given Mayfield’s history with upsetting star receivers, there’s always a chance that Mayfield could start looking away from DJ Moore, opting instead for guys like Terrace Marshall or Robby Anderson. Moore did sign a massive contract extension prior to the season though, so perhaps he’ll give Mayfield a little more leeway than OBJ did. Mayfield already has a history with the Panthers’ No. 2 receiver Robbie Anderson. In April of this year, when it was first reported that Mayfield’s most likely landing spot was Carolina, Anderson commented “Nooooo” on an Instagram post relaying that information. That’s five O’s worth of “no.” Then, when pushed on the subject, Anderson doubled down, commenting “Facts.”

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What I’m most worried about is Mayfield’s pocket presence behind a subpar offensive line though. Mayfield has had the luxury of playing behind one of the best O-lines in football for most of his career. In 2021, Cleveland had the best run-blocking line in the NFL, and while their pass-blocking stats left a lot to be desired, many of those figures can be blamed on Mayfield’s lack of awareness, as well as the absence of both Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin for much of the season. Even with those absences, Pro Football Focus ranked the Browns’ O-line as the eighth-best in the NFL following the 2021 season. In every other year of Mayfield’s career, the Browns have ranked top-20 in adjusted sack rate. Since 2019, the Panthers have never finished better than 20th in adjusted sack rate just once.

The Panthers made an effort to improve their offensive line during the offseason, but a rookie at left tackle probably isn’t going to be enough to overcome all the deficiencies that unit displayed last year. It will definitely help, but it probably won’t cloak all the other holes, especially in a division that features Shaq Barrett, Cameron Jordan, and Grady Jarrett.

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Even if Christian McCaffrey is healthy for the entire season, it is unlikely to help Mayfield’s play. The Browns have had one of the most formidable rushing attacks in the NFL the last few years, and yet Mayfield has continued to look like a wet noodle throwing duck after duck behind the line of scrimmage. It’s clear that a great running game won’t help Mayfield enough to make the Panthers playoff contenders.

The biggest loser in this trade has to be Matt Rhule though. I don’t have to remind anybody how hot his seat is. There are many people who assume he will be the first head coach fired in the upcoming season. The addition of Mayfield will only expedite his departure. If the Panthers struggle with Darnold under center, fans will start clamoring for Mayfield to take over the starting role. Then, when the Panthers inevitably continue to crumble with Mayfield at quarterback, the blame will rightfully shift to Rhule. Maybe Matt Corral can emerge as a top-tier talent and save Rhule’s job, but I wouldn’t bet on it. There’s gotta be a reason why he fell so far in the draft.

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If Mayfield does earn the starting spot for the Panthers Week 1, he’ll immediately get a shot at revenge as the Panthers will host the Browns. If Jacoby Brissett is starting for the Browns, then it’s very likely that Carolina walks away with the dub. Just imagine the shade Mayfield would throw at the Browns if he won, that would be a legendary day on Twitter. That being said, even with Brissett at QB, the Browns would put up a good fight. The Panthers don’t boast a defensive line that can compete with the talent on the Browns’ offensive line. I love me some Brian Burns and Derrick Brown, but I love me some Wills, Conklin, Bitonio, and Wyatt Teller more. But for the sake of Mayfield’s pettiness, I hope the Panthers pull it out.

Skip Bayless’ mega-troll schtick continues as he baits more players into his trap of controversy

Young is a highly talented player who recently found himself in a Twitter beef with Bayless over disparaging comments ranging from claims of poor play to making fun of Trae’s height. Nothing is off limits with Bayless as he digs at players because he knows he’ll get a reaction most times.

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Green has also had his issues with Bayless lately in this “old media vs. new media” battle for supremacy. The two have gone at each other on Twitter, podcast platforms, and Undisputed for Bayless. While it is entertaining, responding to Skip’s repeated jabs only pushes forward his agenda. Bayless has been trolling for a couple of decades now. He probably doesn’t even believe half the crap that falls out of his mouth at this point.

But these players keep wandering into his traps, feeding into his schtick. That’s all it is anyway. This has been Bayless’ act on TV going back to the days of Cold Pizza, then First Take after that. It’s nothing new. Just ask Chris Bosh and Jalen Rose. Although it made for compelling television, that entire ordeal probably went too far.

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The tension between Bayless and Bosh got so thick that the Heat star joined Skip on First Take in 2011 to confront him about the “Bosh Spice” nickname. Bayless held his ground and even called him Bosh Spice to his face. Ultimately, I’m not sure what that meeting of the minds accomplished, but it was good for ratings. In the end, that’s all Skip cares about, and it’s the main reason for his trolling of the new generation of players.

Skip’s hubris eventually led him into a First Take debate for the ages with Rose. Bayless was destroyed at every turn by Rose, who turned the tables on Skip, mocking his high school statistics. Not long after Rose, NFL player Richard Sherman went on the show and thoroughly obliterated Bayless. The bully got a taste of his own medicine and, for once, did not have a comeback. Well, at least twice, you could say.

Richard Sherman vs. Skip Bayless on ESPN 1st Take

Of course, neither instance caused Skip to reflect and change the error of his ways. He immediately continued trolling players following each incident where he was shut down on a national stage. Talk about giving no F***s. You’d think by now, players would have learned to just allow Bayless to talk himself into a stupor.

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The only players regularly berated by Bayless that don’t feel the need to fire back are Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Every day on FS1, at some point, it’s guaranteed that Skip and Shannon Sharpe will debate over James/Lakers and Curry/Warriors. This was especially true this season as the Warriors returned to prominence and the Lakers stunk up the joint.

No matter how well Curry or James played, Bayless had energy for ‘em, and they never flinched. LeBron put out a tweet before the 2021-22 season about everyone talking about him and his teammates, how old they were, and how it wasn’t going to work with Russell Westbrook, and he just wanted folks to keep the same “narrative energy.” It wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, but I’m sure Skip came to mind as James typed that tweet.

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Then Steph just seems not to pay much attention to any of it, although he’s commented on what was said about the Warriors during a brief hiatus from the mountain top. Again, he didn’t say any names, but surely Bayless is one of the pundits for which that message was meant. Plus, he’s got Draymond, who does enough talking for the entire team, especially with his podcast.

Kevin Durant may be the easiest player to reel into a verbal altercation via Twitter. He’s never shy about blasting anyone, but I’m sure he takes extra joy in setting his sights on Bayless. Skip’s claimed for years that he is Durant’s “biggest fan,” but that’s never mattered to KD. He’s not a fan of Skip, no matter how many times he debates in his favor on Undisputed.

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With social media and how reactionary many players are today, Bayless will be on tv debating and trolling on social media until he can no longer speak. With guys like Green, Young, and KD more than willing to engage Skip at every turn, his spot is secure in the debate show landscape. If players truly want to do away with Skip Bayless, they’ve got to take a page from the playbook of LeBron and Steph. Don’t say his name. Don’t give him the energy because he feeds off it. 

The Griers aren’t the First Black Family of pro sports C-Suites, they’re really the Only Family

During the NBA Draft, the number of prospects who were the children of former WNBA or NBA stars highlighted an extremely conspicuous trend. An increasing number of professional athletes are the progeny of professional athletes who possess the resources and insider knowledge to pass down what and who they know. Who ya…

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The U.S. Open Twitter account went all in clowning a Seattle Seahawks fan and Drew Lock

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U.S. Open continued trolling the troll by posting Chris Simms’ Top 40 NFL QB countdown where Lock came in last. Yes, a supposed QB1 finished 40th in ranking at his position. Which prompted U.S. Open to pose the question:

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“aren’t there only 32 NFL teams?”

Since trading Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson and receiving Lock, draft picks, and players in return, the Seahawks have done much to seemingly improve their signal-caller situation. No one believed it initially, but Pete Carroll is intent on Lock being the guy for Seattle moving forward. At least for the upcoming season.

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Seattle won’t even go get Baker Mayfield out of Cleveland. A healthy Mayfield is undoubtedly a better option (including Geno Smith) than any QB currently on the Seahawks’ roster. It felt like they were waiting to see if the Browns would cut Baker, but that still hasn’t happened. The Mayfield option becomes less likely with every passing day.

This is setting up to be one of Seattle’s worst seasons under Carroll. Since arriving in 2010, the Carroll-led Seahawks have never won less than seven games in a season. From 2012-2016 they won at least 10 games each year. Carroll and the Seahawks haven’t had back-to-back losing seasons since his first two years as head coach.

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I feel confident that Seattle will lose much more than they win this season. That’s obvious. I don’t think there’s any way this team can win seven games. They’ll be lucky to get six victories. Playing in the NFC West, there’s a good chance they don’t win a single division game. Seattle wasn’t great last year, but they still had Wilson to fall back on when he was healthy. Things could get ugly fast in Seattle with Wilson gone and Lock running the show.

So, considering the type of season the Seahawks could be in for, their fans might want to pack it in and be a little humbler. They probably won’t, but you should probably leave tennis alone. That didn’t work out too well this time.

Don’t congratulate the San Jose Sharks and the NHL for being last to hire a Black general manager

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If Grier’s name rings a bell to hockey fans it’s because he played in the league for 14 seasons before retiring in 2011. He’s also the brother of Chris Grier, the man who became the Miami Dolphins’ first Black GM in 2016.

As great as it is to be first, we rarely talk about how much of a weight it is to carry. It’s an enjoyable burden, as there’s great pride in making history and being the first to cross that threshold. However, what many overlook and fail to understand is that you’re not crossing that line alone, as you’ve now become the barometer for those that will hopefully come after you. There is great value in being “the only one in the room” when people who look like you were previously excluded. But once you’re in the room, you quickly realize that you have to speak for an entire race/group of people, even when you don’t want to — especially when your personal views on a subject may not be aligned with your people’s.

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This is what Mike Grier’s new life will be like more often than not. And he will be doing it for a franchise he used to play for, and one that made an embarrassment of itself just last summer. In case you forgot, the Sharks tried to hijack Juneteenth from African-Americans last year when a white team, in a white sport, in a white city, thought it was a good idea to release an image of their mascot biting the chains off the shackles around a Black person’s wrist to celebrate a holiday that white people seemed to only discover in 2021.

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This is who the first Black general manager in the history of the National Hockey League will be working for as it took until 2022 for both entities to “find the right Black guy.”

The saddest part about all of this is that hockey’s fan base, the Sharks, and the league will look at this moment as some type of revolutionary change. This is an example of how progress can be a funny thing. Because when you’re a minority, it’s always a very slow process. But, if you’re of the majority, it feels as if it’s taking place faster than it actually is.

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And as the Sharks hold their Tuesday press conference to introduce Grier, while the team and league pat themselves on the backs, I want to remind them that Mike Grier isn’t the first “Mike Grier.” There have been countless Black men before him that were overqualified for the position and overlooked. And when you think about that and how it’s more than likely set the league back further than it could have been, you start to see just how little there is to celebrate.

Eventually, there will be another Mike Grier in hockey as they’ll be the second or third Black person to be a GM in the NHL. And at every one of those press conferences, they will mention his name and thank him for being the first. And as they’re doing it they’ll also be thinking the same thing I’m thinking today: “Why did it take so long?”

Idiot of the Month: Independence Day edition

Welcome to Deadspin’s All-American tradition, IDIOT OF THE MONTH! As usual we have curated for you this guide to the various dumb things that happened the month before, a process which for us pulls double duty as both editorial commentary and therapy session. So put down your weiners for a moment and join us for this…

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This July 4th, let's celebrate athletes who revolutionized the game

On the 266th Independence Day in U.S. history, it’s a perfect time to look back at some of the radical revolutionaries in sports. Sometimes the path to success in athletics requires an innovative approach that changes the course of history. Let’s honor some of the luminaries and talents who channeled that spirit and…

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Big bucks for wide receivers is bad news for several other positions

There are currently 12 wide receivers in the NFL with contracts that earn them an average annual value of $20 million or more. Nine of those contracts — Chris Godwin, DJ Moore, Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Mike Williams, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, and Stefon Diggs — were signed during this offseason. Just…

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NFL Sunday Ticket is being sold, but how will it change?

Cable/satellite isn’t dead, but it’s hanging onto life by a thread, and the biggest reason why many people still have cable is leaving very soon. DirecTV has been the only place for NFL Sunday Ticket for several years now. While an average NFL fan may only want CBS or FOX for their local team, sports bars and avid NFL…

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Which players have played on the most teams in each sport?

Adjusting to the environment around you is key to success in any sport. Even with NBA rosters having the smallest maximum roster size of the big four North American leagues with 15 players, there are personnel changes all the time. Imagine having to deal with that in new cities with new teammates and coaches…

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