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Panthers trade for Browns QB Baker Mayfield

The Carolina Panthers are sending a 2024 draft pick for the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Baker Mayfield is the newest Carolina Panther, as the team traded for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick Wednesday. 

The Panthers will send a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Mayfield, who enters the final year of his rookie contract. Mayfield was due to make $18.5 million but agreed to a $3.5 million pay cut to make the trade happen. 

The Panthers will only cover $5 million of Mayfield's remaining salary, while the Browns are on the hook for $10.5 million, WCNC Charlotte's Ashley Stroehlein reported

The trade is pending a physical for Mayfield. Coincidentally, the Panthers open the regular season at home against the Browns. 

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Mayfield has been linked to trade rumors since the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson earlier this year. The Panthers were among the teams in the Mayfield mix, with a deal all but imminent in late June. 

Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2020, leading the Browns to the playoffs. It was the team's first playoff appearance since 2002, and its first playoff victory since 1994. 

Head coach Matt Rhule was complimentary of Sam Darnold through minicamp and said any trade would likely come after the three-day camp last month. The team also has rookie Matt Corral on the roster. 

Darnold struggled mightily in his first season with the Panthers. After helping the team to a 3-0 start, Darnold reverted into his New York Jets-era form, finishing the year with more turnovers (17) than touchdowns (14).

He was also under heavy pressure, being sacked 35 times in 12 games.

"Sam has to keep working and developing, we've made the offensive line significantly improved in front of him," Rhule said. "We've seen Sam get better and better and better."

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