Stay or go? Carolina Panthers 2021 free agents on offense

(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images Curtis Samuel
(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images Curtis Samuel /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Curtis Samuel /

Curtis Samuel – Carolina Panthers WR

  • Stay or Go? STAY – But will probably GO

Make no mistake, the Carolina Panthers would love to keep Curtis Samuel around. He is a dynamic weapon who became a vital component to Joe Brady’s offensive gameplan in 2020 and a reliable pass-catching presence in crucial situations.

However, Samuel’s production won’t have gone unnoticed by NFL teams and his asking price will undoubtedly be through the roof after accumulating more than 1,000 all-purpose yards for the first time in his career. Considering how much finances are going to impact every decision in the current climate, Carolina might not have enough to keep him around.

This would be a body blow to lose another talented player entering their prime. Things might have been different had COVID-19 not forced the salary-cap down, but this is not the case.

Pharoh Cooper – Carolina Panthers WR/KR

  • Stay or Go? GO

Pharoh Cooper had some nice moments as a kick returner. But his lack of involvement in the passing game was glaring and his stay with the Panthers is unlikely to last more than one season.

The former All-Pro is sure to get another gig elsewhere thanks to his unique skill set. Cooper is a solid asset for any roster but Carolina might look for a better option in the coming weeks.

Brandon Zylstra – Carolina Panthers WR

  • Stay or Go? GO

Brandon Zylstra is a reliable pass-catcher who has proven he belongs in the NFL. He might even thrive with a little more responsibility on his shoulders, but that doesn’t appear it will happen with the Panthers.

One thing Zylstra lacks is a dynamic threat that was prominent throughout Carolina’s offense in 2020. With undrafted free-agent Omar Bayless set for a return to full health, the coaching staff might decide to give him a rotational role and see what he can do.

Keith Kirkwood – Carolina Panthers WR

  • Stay or Go? GO

Things could have been different for Keith Kirkwood had he not suffered a couple of injuries that all-but ended his chances of making any sort of impression in 2020. The wide receiver was familiar with the scheme and worked with Brady and Teddy Bridgewater with the New Orleans Saints, which only heightened the anticipation once he made a return to the field.

There might be a scenario where Kirkwood is brought back if he can prove his fitness after being so unfortunate. But the league is a what have you done for me lately business and Carolina should look elsewhere.