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Panthers waive struggling QB Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield would be subject to waivers and become a free agent if he goes unclaimed.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

The short-lived Baker Mayfield era is over in Carolina. The Panthers waived the struggling quarterback Monday after the 2018 No. 1 draft pick asked for his release. Mayfield would be subject to waivers and become a free agent if he goes unclaimed.

The move does not come as a surprise, because Sam Darnold replaced Mayfield after his failed second stint as starting quarterback, and the Panthers like what they have in backup P.J. Walker. The move gives Mayfield a chance to potentially land with a team that needs quarterback help.

San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson all suffered injuries over the weekend.

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Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks said Mayfield asked for his release once he informed the quarterbacks that Darnold would be the team’s starter and Walker would be the backup this Sunday at Seattle.

“Baker has been nothing but a professional since he’s been here, a complete pro,” Wilks said. “I have tremendous respect for him.”

Wilks said he made the decision to go with Walker over Mayfield as the backup after “looking at the body of work the last couple of weeks. I felt P.J. has been productive when he was in there.”

Mayfield was 1-5 as Carolina’s starting QB and completed just 57.8 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns and six interceptions. He also struggled with tipped passes at the line of scrimmage. The Panthers are last in the league in third-down conversions.

Wilks said he couldn’t pinpoint why Mayfield didn’t work out in Carolina.

“I can’t answer that question,” Wilks said. “It is so many different reasons. I wouldn’t say that he failed. I would say that it just didn’t work out. He is still a good football player. Just like coaches and just like players, sometimes they need a change.”

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Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer traded for Mayfield earlier this season after unsuccessfully trying to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans, and he beat out Darnold for the starting job in training camp. Darnold later injured his ankle and landed on injured reserve and only recently returned to action.

Carolina will send the Cleveland Browns a fifth-round pick in 2024 as compensation.

Fitterer was not made available to reporters Monday.

Guard Austin Corbett said Mayfield stopped by the offensive line meeting room to inform them that he’d been released before leaving Bank of America Stadium, thanking them and telling them he loved them.

“I have nothing negative to say about Baker,” Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman said. “I think he handled the situation the right way. Even with his ups and downs you never saw him act different or have a mood change. He was always the same guy. So I respect him and wish the best for him.”

Ravens hint at Lamar Jackson missing next game

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh sounded doubtful about Lamar Jackson’s availability for this weekend’s game at Pittsburgh.

“He’s been through the MRIs, and I would say it’s kind of week to week. It’s going to be a weekly thing, so as the week goes on we’ll see for this week,” Harbaugh said. “It’s probably less likely for this week but it’s not impossible. And then after that, it’ll become more and more likely.”

Jackson left Sunday’s win over Denver with a knee injury after taking a sack on the final play of the first quarter. Harbaugh said after the game that it was not a season-ending type of injury.

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Backup Tyler Huntley threw for 187 yards with an interception. He led a 91-yard drive late in the fourth quarter for the game’s only touchdown.

Packers talk up bringing back Aaron Rodgers

A day after Aaron Rodgers said returning for a 19th season with the Green Bay Packers will require a “mutual desire on both sides,” his general manager agreed with the franchise quarterback. “Surely, yeah,” GM Brian Gutekunst said, echoing the thoughts of coach Matt LaFleur. Even with Jordan Love waiting in the wings. “We made a big commitment to him this offseason [with a contract extension], so that was obviously something that was really important to us,” said Gutekunst, who added that he and Rodgers have not discussed the four-time MVP’s future, their regular conversations instead focusing on the current team . . . Miami placed right tackle Austin Jackson on injured reserve and signed 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher to address injury issues along their offensive line. Jackson injured his right ankle against Houston in Week 12 and missed Sunday’s loss to San Francisco. He will go on injured reserve for the second time this season after a high ankle sprain kept him out nine games. Jackson suffered a separate injury to the same ankle and will miss at least the next four games. He could return in Week 18 against the Jets. Fisher was a Pro Bowl selection in 2018 and 2020 before Kansas City released him last year . . . Cleveland’s linebacking corps took another major hit as starter Sione Takitaki will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during Sunday’s win over Houston. Takitaki had started the past five games and played solidly for the Browns (5-7), who previously lost starters Anthony Walker Jr. (quadriceps) and Jacob Phillips (pectoral) to season-ending injuries. In 12 games, Takitaki, a 2019 third-round draft pick in his final season under contract, was credited with 71 tackles, one sack, and forced a fumble.

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