NFC Notes: Falcons, Baker Mayfield, Panthers, Saints


  • Falcons second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie received 90.26 percent of his third-year salary guaranteed, which is up from 20 percent for the same player in his draft slot last year. (Aaron Wilson)
  • Falcons third-round QB Desmond Ridder had 5th day of training camp roster bonuses added to the final three years of his deal, including $78,771 in 2023, $207,542 in 2024 and $336,313 in 2025. (Wilson)


  • PFF’s Doug Kyed says there’s a wide expectation around the NFL, including from one scout who works for a division rival, that the Panthers got an upgrade at quarterback by trading for Baker Mayfield. Another AFC analytics exec added: “I think he’ll be somewhere between his past two seasons. Definitely seems worth a shot for a team that’s trying to avoid being among the worst.”
  • How much of an upgrade the Panthers got is still debatable, per another AFC exec: “Average-to-above average. He’s a middle-of-the-pack guy, not a guy who’s gonna carry anyone to a championship. He has to win the job first.”
  • Notably, Kyed talked to a Browns source who praised Mayfield on the way out the door: “I still believe really strongly in him as a person and player, so I think he’ll do well.” 
  • The same source thought Mayfield could even push the Panthers to the fringe of playoff contention: “The roster is certainly still limiting overall, but I think (Mayfield) is capable of adding three to four wins to what last year’s team produced, so maybe they get to .500-ish or even push fringe playoff-caliber with a bit of luck down the stretch.”
  • But there were widespread questions about the situation Mayfield is landing in with the Panthers, as HC Matt Rhule is widely viewed to be on the hot seat, per Kyed: “I think he’ll play fine. But, is ‘fine’ good enough to save Rhule’s job? Because that seat is hot, and I worry more about Baker’s maturity to handle another situation like that than his on-field ability. He’s a mercurial guy joining a tenuous situation. It may get ugly again.”
  • Although the Panthers have insisted there will be an open competition for the starting job between Mayfield and incumbent starting QB Sam Darnold, Kyed notes most around the league believe Mayfield is the heavy favorite. 
  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer believes the Panthers are being honest about the competition and notes Darnold has three things going for him: a head start in the playbook, some legitimate faith from OC Ben McAdoo and more of an edge he displayed during spring practices. 
  • According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Mayfield can earn back the $3.5 million he gave up as a part of the trade via incentives. Most require Mayfield to play 75 percent of the snaps first. He can earn $250,000 for 10 wins, $500,000 for a divisional round win, $600,000 for an NFC Championship and $750,000 for a Super Bowl, provided he plays at least half the snaps in those games. 
  • Mayfield can also earn $300,000 each if the team finishes in the top 10 in the NFL or top five in the NFC in total offense or points scored. If he has 224 attempts and his completion percentage is top 10 in the NFL/top five in the NFC, that’s another $300,000. Finally, there’s a $500,000 Pro Bowl incentive. 
  • Tepper Sports & Entertainment COO Mark Hart, an associate of Panthers owner David Tepper who was involved with the failed practice facility project in Rock Hill, South Carolina, has resigned from his position. (Gordon Rago)


  • Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports “there’s optimism in the building” about the returns of both Saints QB Jameis Winston and WR Michael Thomas.
  • According to Rapoport, Thomas has been at the Saints’ facility and is on the same page with new HC Dennis Allen. Rapoport adds Thomas could be cleared at some point early in training camp.
  • As for Winston, Rapoport says he’s expected to be fully healthy heading into the season.

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