Baker Mayfield is finally free of the Cleveland Browns after four seasons where it never felt the franchise fully bought into him. He's been traded to the Carolina Panthers where he'll join a crowded quarterback room that includes Sam Darnold, Matt Corral and P.J. Walker. While no one knows how this deal will turn out, one thing is for sure: if it fails, head coach Matt Rhule is likely done in Carolina.
Rhule is entering his third season with the Panthers in 2022 and things have not gone well so far. Carolina went 5-11 in his first campaign in 2020, then 5-12 in 2021. There was almost not any improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 and Rhule was exposed as having some antiquated beliefs that don't line up with the modern NFL. His philosophy leans far more heavily on the running game than virtually every other offense in the league.
As evidence of how dysfunctional things got behind the scenes for Rhule, he fired well-respected offensive coordinator Joe Brady in the middle of the 2021 season. Brady was thought of as a hot, young offensive mind when Rhule hired him away from LSU in 2020. A year and a half later he was out of a job. Rhule wanted to run his style of offense, not Brady's.
Rhule hasn't been able to get production out of his quarterbacks, and if he can't figure that out in his third season, there's no reason for the Panthers to bring him back. He's had plenty of time to show progress and hasn't. He's firmly on the hot seat and Mayfield may not be able to save him.