5 Panthers not named Sam Darnold with the most at stake in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Coming off a year of surpassed expectations and disappointments, what members of an up-and-coming Carolina Panthers squad have the most at stake in 2021?

2020 was an interesting year by all accounts and the NFL was not spared that sentiment. With a nonexistent offseason and limited fan involvement robbing the players and coaches of much-needed time to learn playbooks and personalities as well as the ability to feed off the energy of a raucous home crowd. Things that help both rookies and new coaches learn how the league works.

In some cases that seemed to stunt the growth of young players and in others they rose above adversity and turned in spectacular years. In some cases, record-breaking ones.

The same can also be said for veterans who seemed to either hit the age wall or finally cash in on their never realized potential.

However, with 2020 behind us, there are no excuses for subpar play this season and Matt Rhule and company have a year under their belt with the Carolina Panthers, so inexperience is no longer a crutch they can lean on.

The flip side is also true, players that may have latched onto the weird year and filled up the stat books have to keep up that momentum with more normality coming their way in 2021.

A year where we will more than likely see the true colors of players that may have been handicapped last season and where potential one-season wonders come falling back to earth.

So whether you are a young player coming off a spectacular campaign or a veteran who failed to live up to their previous production, there is plenty to prove in the 2021 season and quite a bit on the line where the Panthers are concerned.

After the salary cap plummeted this offseason, teams were sent scrambling to find money anywhere they could after previously predicting contracts based on cap projections, which wasn’t expected to dip before COVID-19.

But with new TV deals, increased ticket sales, and at-home viewership, the cap is set to soar in the coming years.

This makes those one-year “prove it” contracts all the more important this season. There is going to be a huge bidding war once teams have that extra cash burning a hole in their pocket.

That is if they manage to prove last season wasn’t a fluke.

So with all that being said, here are four Panthers players not named Sam Darnold who go into the 2021 season with the most at stake.