Carolina Panthers: Could the roster be NFL’s thinnest in 2020?

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore /

Could the Carolina Panthers be going into 2020 with the NFL’s thinnest roster in terms of depth?

The Carolina Panthers have made wholesale changes to their roster this offseason. This was largely expected during the first year of their rebuild under Matt Rhule. But the number of veteran departures has been overwhelming.

Whether this can translate into the Carolina Panthers becoming a contender in the near future is up for debate. A process such as this normally takes some time. Although their roster does have some playmakers on both sides of the ball. If one or two prominent members of the team are forced to miss some time. This could be a significant problem.

It doesn’t appear to be the deepest roster that the Panthers have ever put together. Their dead cap figure of $41.1 million has hampered them considerably during the free agency period. And this has forced the team to bring in players with plenty to prove on short-term deals.

A recent feature by Mark Schofield at The Touchdown Wire selected the 11 thinnest rosters in the NFL. Carolina came in at No. 2 in the standings. And only former Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera with the Washington Redskins was ranked ahead of them.

Schofield cited the level of quality losses across the board as the main reason behind their ranking. And their lack of time together from a chemistry perspective

"“There is potential for the 2020 Carolina Panthers to vastly surpass expectations. . . Beyond the skill positions, however, there are issues. The offensive line has some holes, perhaps bigger than Russell Okung can plug. Pass rush is a question mark, although Derrick Brown on the inside and Yetur Gross-Matos on the outside can help. Luke Kuechly’s retirement leaves a big hole, and the secondary also faces questions after the departure of James Bradberry. Eli Apple showed promise while in New Orleans, so he could step into that cornerback spot, Jeremy Chinn was a very intriguing prospect prior to the draft and fits the mold of the modern NFL safety. So while there is talent on both sides of the football, the depth behind those players, as well as how those new faces gel, are big questions facing Rhule in 2020.”"

Do the Carolina Panthers have the NFL’s thinnest roster in 2020?

According to Field Yates of ESPN, just 46.9 percent of players that took team snaps in 2019 will be back on the Panthers in 2020. This is the NFL’s lowest and is another complication Carolina must overcome during the campaign.

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One could make an argument that there is plenty of rosters who could be classed as thinner than what the Carolina Panthers have to work with. The New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and Detroit Lions look like they could also use some significant reinforcements before competitive action gets underway.

Things are going to be tough for this new-look roster next season. But it would be a big surprise if Carolina was still in this type of conversation next year. They could have around $90 million in salary-cap space to spend providing they make the necessary cuts. And this has the potential to make a massive difference to their overall fortunes if the money is spent wisely.

It will be the job of the Panthers’ current options to show the right sort of progress to make the team an attractive destination for quality players looking for a new home in 2021. There is every chance they can make this happen. But there is a lot of football to be played between now and then.

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