How will Baker Mayfield impact the Atlanta Falcons and the NFC South?
By Nick Halden
The one team the Atlanta Falcons arguably had the advantage over in their division is the Carolina Panthers. A Carolina team that was counting on Sam Darnold in his second year with the Panthers before their headline trade this week brought Baker Mayfield to Carolina. Mayfield will be competing with Darnold for the starting job.
While Darnold has the advantage of knowing the Carolina offense there shouldn’t be any doubt that Mayfield will win the starting job. He is the better quarterback and if given a fair shot in Carolina will change the Panthers’ outlook on the season.
The addition of Mayfield pushes the Panthers from a possible 5-6 win team to a unit that could win 8-10 games and stay in the wildcard hunt late into the season. The addition of Baker is more than enough to push the Panthers past the Falcons and add an additional loss for a team whose outlook on the season was already bleak.
Baker Mayfield will join a division of quarterbacks that now features Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Sam Darnold. Four quarterbacks who thus far have proven to be draft busts for their first teams and are now looking for a second life in a division that will be ruled by Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Bucs.
The level of talent disparity between Tom Brady and the next best quarterback in the NFC South speaks to just how important Matt Ryan was to the Atlanta Falcons. With Matt Ryan, this season the Falcons improved the roster enough to contend for a wildcard spot.
However, Atlanta made the right decision by turning the page and sending Ryan to a team capable of putting adequate support around him. With Ryan gone Baker Mayfield has a chance to be the second-best quarterback in this division and push the Panthers back into relevance, they haven’t had since Cam Newton’s prime.