The Carolina Panthers waived erstwhile starting quarterback Baker Mayfield at his request on Monday.
Mayfield will hit the waiver wire later in the day, and positioning for the former No. 1 overall pick could be intriguing with subplots aplenty.
The move comes as the Panthers (4-8) come out of their bye week.
The Panthers play at Seattle this week and it's not clear who will be the starter -- Sam Darnold or PJ Walker. Darnold made his season debut as the starter in Carolina's Week 12 game against Denver, leading the Panthers to a win while throwing for 164 yards and a score.
Mayfield, 27, started six of the seven games he played in this season, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,313 yards and six touchdowns against six interceptions.
Mayfield was in his first season in Carolina, which acquired him from Cleveland in July for a 2024 conditional fifth round pick. The pick will remain a fifth-rounder since Mayfield didn't play 70 percent of the team's snaps at QB. The Panthers paid $5 million of Mayfield's fifth-year option while the Browns paid about $10.5 million. Mayfield agreed to cut the remaining $3 million-plus off his fifth-year salary to facilitate the trade.
Mayfield is 30-35 as a starting QB in 65 starts as an NFL quarterback since being selected No. 1 by the Browns in 2018. He's thrown for 98 TDs and 62 INTs for his career.
The Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams all stand in front of the 49ers in the waiver order and could make a claim to block division-leading San Francisco from picking up Mayfield. The 49ers have lost quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries.
The Rams sit fourth in the current waiver order. They are likely without quarterback Matthew Stafford (spinal contusion, concussion) with a 3-9 record and parted with their 2023 first-round draft choice in the Stafford deal with the Detroit Lions. The Houston Texans, also unsettled at the position, are No. 1 in the waiver order.
A team claiming him would owe Mayfield $1.3M for the rest of this season. He would become an unrestricted free agent if he goes unclaimed.
Arizona has a 4-8 record coming out of a Week 13 bye. Before the draft, the Cardinals were among teams to host Mayfield, who met with general manager Steve Keim. Arizona underwent a rapidly spun quarterback carousel and changed coaches, picking Josh Rosen in the same draft the Browns selected Mayfield. But after the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury in 2019 as head coach, they reset the depth chart again by selecting Kyler Murray No. 1 in 2019.
Kingsbury and Mayfield have a complicated history from their time as coach-QB at Texas Tech. The friction pushed Mayfield to transfer to Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield said in 2019 the two patched out their friction-filled relationship, which might open the door to the Cardinals claiming him for the final month of the season.
San Francisco leads the NFC West but Garoppolo is out the rest of the season after suffering a broken foot on Sunday. Brock Purdy is currently QB1 for the Niners.
--Field Level Media