Carolina Panthers waive ex-No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield. Will the 49ers claim him?
A former No. 1 overall pick is about to be on the move again.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield was waived by the Carolina Panthers on Monday. Mayfield — whom the Cleveland Browns selected first in the 2018 draft — could land on the third team of his career if a team claims him.
If he clears waivers, Mayfield will become a free agent.
Mayfield demanded a trade after the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson and gave him a five-year, $230 million guaranteed contract amid more than two dozen accusations of sexual harassment. In July, the Panthers acquired Mayfield in exchange for a 2024 conditional draft pick.
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Starting the first five games of the season, Mayfield completed 54.9% of his passes and the Panthers were 1-4. Coach Matt Rhule was fired, and Mayfield suffered an ankle injury that kept him out until he relieved P.J. Walker in the second half of a Week 9 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Back in the starting role two weeks later, Mayfield turned in a two-interception outing against the Baltimore Ravens in a 13-3 loss. Interim coach Steve Wilks went with Sam Darnold in Week 12. At that point, Mayfield seemed resigned to the fact his time in Carolina was closing.
"I think there's a lot of things up in the air for the future here," he told reporters last month. "So, I don't really know. I'm doing what I can, what I can control. And I know how my teammates feel about me and how I've handled things here. So, I can leave here with my head held high and understand that I did everything I could."
Mayfield finished second in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting to Saquon Barkley in 2018. Two seasons later, he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first postseason appearance in 18 years.
Both Mayfield and the Browns regressed in 2021 while Mayfield battled a shoulder injury that impacted his play. After that, the Browns decided to move on in favor of Watson.
Will the 49ers sign Mayfield?
Moments after Mayfield’s release was reported, Twitter was ablaze with speculation that Mayfield would join the San Francisco 49ers.
The Niners have an obvious need at quarterback following the foot injury suffered by Jimmy Garoppolo that will require season-ending surgery. With 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance sidelined with a fractured ankle, third-stringer Brock Purdy — the final pick of the 2022 draft — is currently their starter. Purdy helped the 49ers defeat the Miami Dolphins 33-17.
San Francisco quickly addressed the QB depth issue Sunday night by signing journeyman veteran Josh Johnson.
The waiver wire order is set by reverse league standings after Monday Night Football. With the Niners at 8-4 and in first place in the NFC West, they are currently 24th in waiver priority. Any team that claims Mayfield would owe him a prorated $1.3 million.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.