CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield is scheduled to speak with reporters on Tuesday afternoon as the Carolina Panthers officially introduce the former Cleveland Browns quarterback.
Mayfield, however, didn't wait until then to share his thoughts on his new team's Week 1 matchup vs. his former team, admitting to Panthers.com that he already has Carolina's Sept. 11 contest vs. Cleveland circled on his calendar.
"I'm not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you that's not one I've marked on the calendar already," Mayfield said. "One, that's not who I am. To me, it's about winning games. Whoever we have marked on the schedule, I'm going to try to win. Obviously, this one has a little more history and personal meaning, but for me, it's about winning and setting the tone for the rest of the year, and however I can help this team do that, I'm going to do."
Asked by the team's website if he's the type to hold grudges, the Oklahoma product replied with a grin: "I try not to."
Last week, the Browns traded Mayfield to the Panthers, completing a messy departure for the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. After Cleveland pursued a trade for Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson following a disappointing 2021 season, Mayfield requested a trade -- a request the Browns initially denied before ultimately completing a trade for Watson.
Yet despite Cleveland acquiring Watson in March, the Browns ultimately weren't able to trade their former quarterback until July, due in large part to a lack of suitors being willing to take on Mayfield's $18.8 million. In order to facilitate the trade with Carolina, Cleveland agreed to pay $10 million of the 27-year-old signal-caller's salary, with Mayfield also taking a $3.5 million pay cut -- money he could later earn back in incentives.
In return, the Browns received a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick, which could become a fourth-round pick based on playing time.
"There was a little bit of sacrifice on all three fronts, between Cleveland, Carolina, and myself," Mayfield told Panthers.com. "To me, it's ready for a fresh start first and foremost. I'm extremely grateful for the four years I had in Cleveland, it's a great football town. It's the start of my career, however long, God willing, it will be. I'm thankful for it.
"A lot of ups and downs, a lot of things I learned, but when it came down to it, it was wanting a fresh start, wanting to be with a coach and a GM that truly wanted me, . . . and just wanting the same thing, and that's to win football games."