NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Baker Mayfield


Falcons CB Isaiah Oliver felt that it would be “impossible” to regain his normal playing style after sustaining a torn ACL in October of last year. 

“It was a lot to really understand, a lot to really grasp at the time,” Oliver said, via Michael Rothstein of ESPN. “And it just seemed like it was going to be impossible to get back to where I was at.”

Oliver added that he’s had to rebuild his confidence following his knee injury. 

“Those first few weeks, just imagining running at that time was, like, impossible,” Oliver said. “So to play football was just a whole other level. Then you slowly get your confidence back, the knee starts to feel more normal, things like that.”

Falcons S Erik Harris said that losing Oliver last season impacted how their defense operated. 

“Sometimes you don’t recognize how good things are until you lose it, right?” Harris said. “It was one of those situations. I wouldn’t say we took him for granted. But it was one of those things where everything is flowing well, he’s in there, he’s making calls, he’s getting people lined up and all of a sudden he’s gone.”


  • Panthers GM Scott Fitterer tells reporters it will be an open competition between QB Baker Mayfield and QB Sam Darnold this offseason. (Joseph Person)
  • He added that he hasn’t fielded any calls about Darnold and says that the team is not looking to trade him at this time. (Person
  • Fitterer also commented on the potential of an extension for Mayfield: “Take it up to training camp. Play it out through the season. It’s a fresh start for him. A very healthy situation for all of us to be in.” (Chris Easterling
  • Another thing Fitterer mentioned was Mayfield’s pay cut and the salary situation with his former team: “This was a really long process. When it came down to it, there was a money gap. Had to be bridged somehow. That’s a lot of money to have to give up.” (Easterling)
  • As for his 2021 season with the Browns, Fitterer noted the multiple injuries that Mayfield dealt with over the course of 18 games: “It wasn’t just the left shoulder. Also had foot injury, rib injury. Last year was just a down year for him.” (Easterling)
  • Mayfield then took the podium and revealed he is ready to take on the Browns in Week 1 and is looking forward to the future with Carolina: “If I’m focused on the past, I’m not doing my job. … You roll with the punches and you’ve got to move forward.” (Easterling)
  • Mayfield maintained that he was stunned when he found out the Browns didn’t have him in their plans but also noted this won’t be his first time learning a new playbook:  “I’ve learned 4 different playbooks in 4 years. Not like this is my first time around having to learn something new.” (Easterling)
  • The Panthers organization investigated claims that the Browns wanted an “adult in the room” at quarterback with Fitterer adding: “A lot of people went to bat for Baker (in Cleveland) and we’re very comfortable with Baker.” (Jake Trotter)


New Panthers QB Baker Mayfield is grateful to be with Carolina and to have the opportunity for a fresh start with a different team. Things had soured enough in Cleveland that he was willing to take a $3.5 million pay cut just to ensure he could get out and have a chance to start for another team. 

“There was a little bit of sacrifice on all three fronts, between Cleveland, Carolina, and myself,” Mayfield said via Darin Gantt of the team website. “To me, it’s ready for a fresh start first and foremost. I’m extremely grateful for the four years I had in Cleveland, it’s a great football town. It’s the start of my career, however long, God willing, it will be. I’m thankful for it.

“A lot of ups and downs, a lot of things I learned, but when it came down to it, it was wanting a fresh start, wanting to be with a coach and a GM that truly wanted me, . . . and just wanting the same thing, and that’s to win football games.”

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