NFL News & Analysis

August 22 Training Camp Notes: Baker Mayfield named Panthers starter, Isaiah Wynn trade rumors and more

Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes the ball as Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat (90) chases during the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers name QB Baker Mayfield Week 1 starter

  • Acquired for a conditional fifth-round pick in early July, Mayfield wins the starting job over Sam Darnold and will start against his former team, the Cleveland Browns, in Week 1. Darnold is expected to be the backup.
  • Mayfield is coming off a rough year, battling an injury to his non-throwing shoulder throughout the 2021 season, leading to a career-low 63.6 PFF grade.
  • Nonetheless, there are some positives: Since entering the NFL, Mayfield’s 5.8% big-time throw rate ranks fifth in the NFL, behind only Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Matthew Stafford.
  • Carolina is entering a pivotal year under head coach Matt Rhule, and many believe it could be a make-or-break year for the coaching staff. Mayfield also needs a big year for his own sake as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

New York Giants pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to miss 3-4 weeks

  • Officially, it’s an MCL sprain for the No. 5 overall pick, which is far better news compared to what it looked like when the injury happened during Sunday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Thibodeaux went down after getting cut-blocked by Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss and immediately grabbed his right knee.
  • The Giants' season opener is in under three weeks against the Tennessee Titans, so it’s probably pushing it for him to be ready by then. Week 2 against Carolina is a more logical return date if all goes well.
  • Thibodeaux has worked with the Giants' first-team defense in OTAs and camp, and he has played 31 total snaps in two preseason games, earning a 68.9 PFF grade.
  • However, not all was good for the Giants, as sixth-round rookie LB Darrian Beavers – who has impressed coaches throughout training camp – suffered a torn ACL in the game and will miss the entire 2022 NFL season.

New England Patriots have talked to teams about trading OT Isaiah Wynn

  • Wynn is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to earn $10.4 million this season.
  • According to Albert Breer, the Patriots have fielded calls on the former first-round pick because they are tight to the cap. New England has roughly $6.8 million in available cap space, which ranks 28th in the league, per Over The Cap.
  • Injuries have been a major problem for Wynn, who missed his entire rookie season, eight games in 2019 and six games in 2020. He was able to start 15 games last season, earning a 74.9 PFF grade. He was a top-15 left tackle in 2020 when he earned an 82.6 overall grade, albeit doing so with just 10 starts.

Green Bay Packers activate David Bakhtiari off the PUP list

  • It’s a big step forward for Bakhtiari, who tore his ACL on Dec. 31, 2020 and played just one game last season before being shut down. He underwent another knee procedure this offseason – his third since the initial ACL tear – raising some questions about his availability.
  • “We're going to take it a day at a time,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. “There's no thought as far as Week 1 is concerned right now. We just want to see how he responds. And when he's ready, he's ready.”
  • When he's fully healthy, Bakhtiari is up there as one of the best at his position. He recorded five straight seasons with 89.0-plus pass-blocking grades from 2016-2020. 
  • Yosh Nijman has taken most of the left tackle reps with the starters in Bakhtiari's absence during OTAs and camp. Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins filled in last season before he also tore his ACL. He was activated off the PUP list last week and is also eased back into action.

Las Vegas Raiders planning to release RB Kenyan Drake

  • Usually when the report is “planning to release” that means the team is giving one last callout to try to find a trade partner. 
  • Appearing in 12 games last season, Drake earned a 73.1 PFF grade and an 82.0 receiving grade. He totaled 545 yards from scrimmage — 254 rushing and 291 through the air. He suffered a gruesome ankle injury in Week 13, ending his season in its tracks.
  • The Raiders still owe Drake $2.5 million fully guaranteed this year in a deal made by the previous regime. If the Raiders do officially cut him, the move will leave $8 million in dead money that will be spread out over the next two years.
  • The Raiders added a few running backs this offseason, signing veterans Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah in free agency and also using a fourth-round pick on Georgia running back Zamir White, who has shined. Josh Jacobs is expected to be the lead back.

Arizona Cardinals acquire G Cody Ford from the Buffalo Bills

  • The Cardinals are sending a fifth-round pick to Buffalo for Ford.
  • The move reunites Ford with former Oklahoma teammates Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown.
  • Buffalo traded up in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft to select Ford, but he never lived up to his draft position and a change of scenery was considered likely since Buffalo emphasizes offensive linemen having versatility.
  • Ford has been rated outside the top 60 at his position in each of his three seasons and has never graded above 55.0.
  • Arizona signed Will Hernandez this offseason, and he’s currently penciled in as a starter alongside Justin Pugh. Nonetheless, Arizona needs depth: Rookie Marquis Hayes has been dealing with a knee issue, guard Danny Isidora was recently spotted in a walking boot, and Justin Murray has been dealing with back and ankle problems.

Minnesota Vikings release WR Albert Wilson

  • The Vikings signed Wilson to a one-year deal a few months ago, but there was no guaranteed money included.
  • He made a strong impression in Minnesota’s first preseason game, catching two touchdown passes from Kellen Mond, but he was shut out in the second preseason game.
  • Wilson has played seven NFL seasons with Kansas City and Miami. After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID, he returned last year, catching 25 passes for a career-low 213 yards. He earned a 59.3 overall grade.
  • Minnesota is set to go into the season with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and KJ Osborn as their top three receivers. 
  • All 32 teams must trim rosters from 85 players to 80 by Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. EST.

Minnesota Vikings acquire QB Nick Mullens from Las Vegas Raiders

  • Minnesota will send a conditional seventh-round pick in 2024 to Las Vegas in the deal.
  • Mullens signed with the Raiders this offseason after spending his first four NFL seasons in San Francisco, and last year in Philadelphia and Cleveland.
  • He has started 17 career games — including one last season for the Browns when he finished 20-of-30 for 147 yards and a TD. He earned a 69.2 PFF grade in that game.
  • The move means Jarrett Stidham has won the backup job in Vegas, while Minnesota appears not satisfied with Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion as they enter the final week of the preseason.
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