Carolina Panthers Free Agency 2023
Despite an up-and-down season, the Panthers had a shot at an NFC South division title in 2022. Ultimately, the team finished 7-10 and missed the NFL playoffs. Head coach Matt Rhule was fired after five games and Steve Wilks finished the season. The focus shifts to the offseason. The first move was hiring Frank Reich as their new head coach. Now, here’s what you need to know about Carolina Panthers free agency for 2023.
Carolina Panthers 2023 NFL Free Agents Overview
The Panthers quarterback situation was a mess in the 2022 NFL season. Baker Mayfield started six games and went 1-5. PJ Walker went 2-3. Sam Darnold showed some potential and went 4-2. Darnold is a free agent. The Panthers offseason will include a quarterback search.
On the defensive side of the ball, free safety Sam Franklin is an exclusive rights free agent after playing in 17 games this past season. He had 1 interception, a sack, and 37 tackles on the year.
Running back D’Onta Foreman hits the market after 914 rushing yards in 2022. He scored five touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The team will consider bringing him back after a career year and he’s only 26 years old. If so, the team will need to improve its run blocking after shuffling through many linemen in 2022.
Center Bradley Bozeman was a pleasant surprise among the offensive linemen after signing a one-year contract with the team. He made an impact and general manager Scott Fitterer might consider bringing him back.
The team might be on the lookout for a tight end for 2023. There wasn’t a tight end on the roster who had more than 200 yards receiving last season. It will be a crucial Panthers free agency period for the team.
Unrestricted Panthers Free Agents
To be an unrestricted free agent, there are a couple of qualifications. An NFL player must have four or more years of experience and their contract has to have expired or been voided. They can negotiate with any team without any restrictions or draft-choice compensation. Here’s a list of impending free agents for the Panthers who are unrestricted.
Sam Darnold – QB
D’Onta Foreman – RB
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Andre Roberts – WR
Rashard Higgins – WR
Centers, Guards, and Tackles
Cameron Erving – T
Bradley Bozeman – C
Michael Jordan – G
Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends, and Edge Rushers
Matthew Ioannidis – DE
Cory Littleton – ILB
Cornerback and Safety
Sean Chandler – S
Juston Burris – S
Justin Layne – CB
Eddy Pineiro – K
Restricted Free Agents
A restricted free agent is a player who has played for three or fewer accrued seasons and has an expiring contract. The team can assign a tender to the player, which allows them to match any offer the player receives from other teams. The team receives draft compensation if the player signs elsewhere.
2023 NFL restricted free agents for the Panthers:
Phillip Walker – QB
Sam Franklin – S
Myles Hartsfield – CB
Salary Cap and Roster
Projections have the Panthers near the bottom of the league in cap space but they can make some room. The salary cap is $224.8 million for the 2023 season. The team has three players with a cap hit of at least $20 million. These players are DJ Moore, Taylor Moton, and Shaq Thompson.
Defensive end Brian Burns commands a $16 million cap hit. He was a pro bowl selection after registering 12.5 sacks in 16 games in the best production of his four seasons in the league. He hadn’t registered double-digit sacks in any of his past three seasons.
The Panthers need to figure out the quarterback position. They have some options among 2023 free agents but they will have to make some tough decisions to clear the salary cap space during the 2023 offseason. The Panthers also have the number 9 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Panthers Free Agency 2023 FAQs
NFL free agency will commence on March 15, 2023. It begins at 4 p.m. eastern time. The date signifies the start of the new league year and the end of all player contracts. Many players are set to hit the market and gain free agency status.
An unrestricted free agent is a player whose contract has expired, and they have no ties to their former team. Starting on March 15, they are free to negotiate with any team in the league without restrictions.
A restricted free agent can be extended what is called a qualifying offer. If offered, they are still allowed to negotiate with other teams around the league. Their current team is allowed to match any offer.
There is a “legal tampering” period that begins on March 13. Teams can talk to certified agents but no signings can be made until free agency is official.