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How Baker Mayfield can earn back his $3.5 million in incentives

When the Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield, the quarterback agreed to a $3.5 million pay cut to facilitate the deal.

But it was reported that Mayfield had a shot at earning the money back via incentives.

Via Field Yates of ESPN, we now know what those incentives are. And most of them seem unlikely to be realized.

Mayfield’s regular-season incentives mainly hinge on him playing 75 percent of the regular-season snaps. If he does and the Panthers reach 10 wins, he’ll receive $250,000. If the Panthers are also in the top five in the NFC or top 10 in the NFL in total offense, he’ll receive $300,000. If Carolina’s in the top five in the NFC or top 10 in the NFL in points scored, he’ll receive $300,000.

If Mayfield’s completion percentage — with a minimum of 224 attempts — is in the top five of the NFC or top 10 in the NFL, he’ll receive $300,000. He’ll also receive a $500,000 bonus for making the Pro Bowl.

Mayfield also has postseason team incentives for Mayfield, which also hinge on him playing at least 75 percent of the regular-season snaps plus 50 percent of each postseason game. If Carolina gets a divisional round win, Mayfield receives $500,000. If the team wins the NFC Championship, Mayfield receives $600,000. And if the Panthers win the Super Bowl, he’ll receive $750,000.

That means $1.85 million of Mayfield’s potential incentives are from postseason playing time and wins, which seem particularly unlikely to be accomplished — even in the weaker NFC.

But it’s not completely out of the question that Mayfield could complete a lot of passes and reach the Pro Bowl. But the Panthers would likely have to defy most of the external preseason expectations for that to happen.