NFL Offseason Previews: Carolina Panthers

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NFL Offseason Previews: Carolina Panthers


The NFL offseason is upon us, and teams will begin working to craft their 2023 rosters in the coming months. In this series of offseason previews, we will look at what each team has to work with and their biggest needs. Today we continue with the Carolina Panthers offseason preview.

As a reminder, here are dates to keep in mind for the 2023 NFL offseason:

  • March 7: deadline for teams to use the franchise tag
  • March 13: legal tampering period opens
  • March 15: NFL free agency begins and the new league year starts
  • April 21: deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
  • April 27-29: NFL draft
  • May 1: deadline for teams to exercise 5th-year options on 2020 first-round draft picks
  • July 15: deadline for franchise tag players to sign an extension

You can find previous team’s offseason previews here: Bears | Bengals | Browns | Lions | Packers | Steelers | Vikings | Ravens | 49ers | Broncos | Rams | Chargers | Seahawks | Raiders | Cardinals | Chiefs | Eagles | Dolphins | Giants | Jets | Patriots | Commanders | Falcons | Texans | Saints | Colts |

2022 Summary

The Panthers got off to a rough start in 2022. Carolina lost four of their first five games before firing head coach Matt Rhule.

Carolina promoted Steve Wilks to interim head coach, and the Panthers split their final 12 games of the season. The Panthers went 6-6 down the stretch and finished the season 7-10. They almost even snuck into the playoffs in a crappy NFC South.

Baker Mayfield went 1-5 as the starting QB before he was released. Mayfield threw for 1,313 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Carolina finished the season with Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker as the starting quarterbacks. Darnold won four of the six games that he started last season and threw for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Key Positional Needs

Here’s where the Panthers need to find help this offseason:

  • QB
  • G
  • LB
  • CB
  • WR

Key Free Agents

Here’s a look at the Panthers upcoming key free agents:

  • Sam Arnold (QB)
  • Bradley Bozeman (C)
  • Cameron Erving (OT)
  • Justin Layne (CB)
  • Cory Littleton (ILB)
  • P.J. Walker (QB)
  • Matthew Ioannidis (DE)

Salary Cap & Draft Capital

Here’s a look at the salary cap room and draft capital that the Panthers have to work with this offseason:

  • Current draft picks: 9 (1), 39 (2), 61 (2), 93 (3), 114 (4), 132 (4), 147 (5)
  • Cap space: $9.4M

Offseason Outlook

The Panthers have the ninth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the belief is that they’re looking for a quarterback for new head coach Frank Reich. With many quarterback-needy teams set to pick in front of them, a trade-up may be in order for the Panthers. If not, they’ll have to find their next quarterback on the free-agent market.

Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker are both free agents as of next week. So, they’ll have to re-sign them if they plan on rolling with one of them (likely Darnold) as their QB in 2023.

The Panthers have just $9.4 million in cap space but could make some room by making some cuts. OLB Shaq Thompson ($13.2 million), C Pat Elflein ($4.8 million), and ILB Damien Wilson ($3.6 million) could be names to watch.

Related Reading

If you’re looking for more offseason reading, Sam Hoppen at 4for4 (our sister company) is previewing each division:

NFC South: Key Free Agents, Draft Picks & Needs, and Available Cap Space | 4for4

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.