For players like Baker Mayfield, the final stretch of the NFL regular season is about getting paid and making an impression—even if the team that's going to sign the check is different than the one they are on right now.
Mayfield is set to hit free agency at the end of the season. If his time in Carolina so far is any indication, he isn't likely to be back for the next campaign.
However, P.J. Walker's high ankle sprain has Mayfield set to take the field as the Panthers' starter, and that gives him an opportunity to essentially audition for other teams who may be interested in him in 2023 free agency.
Similar examples can be found around the league. Players who may or may not be doing well enough to be re-signed by their current teams still have time to make a good impression before they hit the market.
Here's a look at a few who need to start producing if they want to cash in.
S Johnathan Abram, Green Bay Packers
Johnathan Abram has gone through the unfortunate journey from being a first-round pick to getting released by the team that drafted him in the middle of the season before the end of his rookie contract.
The Raiders had already turned down the 2019 first-rounder's fifth-year option, but jettisoning him before the end of the season was a new low that left his free agency value in the tank.
Fortunately for Abram, he's going to have a few opportunities to salvage some of that value.
The Green Bay Packers claimed the safety off waivers, giving him another chance to be a contributor on defense. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who is dealing with a season-ending injury for cornerback Eric Stokes, is excited by the versatility Abram brings.
“When you sign a guy like that, it gives you options,” Barry told reporters. “And I think in our current state, it’s great to have options. I’m just glad that he’s here.”
The Packers are a team that is dealing with a crushing number of injuries. In the secondary, the loss of cornerback Eric Stokes is one that will have a ripple effect. It could force the team to play Darnell Savage in the nickel/slot role, creating the need for a strong safety.
That suits Abram well. He's best in the box as a run-support safety who can also blitz. He had 116 tackles last year, and he generated 14 pressures in 2020 and 2021 combined.
WR Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts
Parris Campbell has largely been a disappointment in the four seasons since the Indianapolis Colts took the speedy receiver in the second round of the 2019 draft.
He hasn't been able to stay on the field thanks to a litany of issues that includes a fractured foot and several knee injuries. The constant barrage of injuries has left a small sample size of what Campbell can actually do when healthy.