Delhomme is enthusiastic about the addition of quarterback Baker Mayfield in a trade with the Browns Wednesday (especially the price) also genuinely believes the improvements the team made this offseason would have allowed Sam Darnold too he is eager to see the competition shake out.
The Hall of Honor quarterback and judge for the Panthers Radio Network was generally optimistic about the possibilities Mayfield brings to the offense.
The most significant thing with Baker you watch is how accurate he is with the ball Delhomme said. And when he misses it loses, he’s got some thump on the ball.
And to get a fifth-round pick in two years and it doesn’t cost that much money that’s a no-brainer.
In his finest season (2020), Mayfield completed 62.8 percent of his credentials, with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His numbers dropped off last year as he struggled with a left shoulder injury but his career completion percentage of 61.6.
He revealed he can make big throws in big moments, leading the Browns to the playoffs and tossing a dramatic deep touchdown to a well-covered Jarvis Landry against the Panthers in 2018.
The team’s not declaring anyone the starter at the point, and Delhomme said it would be interesting to see how Darnold answers in camp after having a full offseason to absorb new coordinator Ben McAdoo’s offense. Darnold’s the better athletic and bigger of the two, and he also has a four-month head start.
I think a lot of individuals have already written the story on Sam, and this is not me being an apologist; I just think there are some positives there, Delhomme said. They enhanced things around the quarterback this offseason, so it’s a better chance for him to look good than honestly.
He didn’t play nicely enough last year and knows that, but he has some talent; now we’ll know and now get to see what it looks like.
One item Delhomme isn’t worried about is a competitive environment based on his own experiences here. When he came to the Panthers in 2003 as free agency, veteran Rodney Peete was the incumbent starter and moved into the regular season with that job. But at halftime of the opener, Delhomme returned him, led a rally win against the Jaguars, and then was part of an unexpected Super Bowl run.
Delhomme said Peete was awesome for him during their camp round. At the time, they’d break sports camp segments of 20 plays equally, so each quarterback (along with Chris Weinke and Randy Fasani) would get five snaps each. The case was a little different then, as Delhomme was still trying to prove he could be a starter while Peete was riding off into the sunset phase in his profession. But Peete knew then-coordinator Dan Henning’s system, so Delhomme knew it wasn’t a sure thing.
For me, it was almost calling reps, Delhomme said. I felt sports camp went on and I got more work could feel it moving in my direction just because I was getting more comfortable.
But Rodney had beaten seven games the year before, and no one thought that was happening a year after they went 1-15, so he had shown what he could do physically, and the intangibles were off the chart.
Peete continued to support Delhomme once he was brought over, with one notable exception.
When the Panthers recreated the Buccaneers in November of that season, Delhomme was heading out of bounds (and now it’s secure to admit this) when he tried to draw a penalty against Hall of Fame safety John Lynch. Trying to rob a cheap 15, Delhomme said with a laugh. Lynch didn’t find it amusing at the time and made it to Delhomme in very descriptive and colorful language that he would not forget and that payback was coming. As was familiar with the Panthers and the Bucs at the time, there was some yapping going on, among many players on the field, with Peete exchanging some words with Lynch.
When I finally got around to the sidelines, Rodney was there, Delhomme recalled with a laugh. And he said You better slide your ass a slightly earlier next time because I am not going in that game.
Otherwise, Delhomme said there was never a concern in having to battle for the starting job when he came here, and he believes base will be an exciting time for Mayfield as well. Delhomme had his cameo in Cleveland (starting four games for the Browns in 2010), so he knows something of the pressure that comes with playing there.
“The guy has accomplished it at a high level, he won a playoff game in Cleveland, and that’s huge,” Delhomme said. “You could mean he was breaking last year, and it sucks when you’re not 100 percent, and things aren’t going well. But he fought through.