7 Carolina Panthers players entering the last chance saloon in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Pat Elflein /

Pat Elflein – Carolina Panthers OL

There doesn’t appear to be much doubt that this is Pat Elflein’s last opportunity to prove he can become a reliable NFL starter. Winning a job on the offensive line will be objective No. 1 for the player with the Carolina Panthers, but he’ll also need to back this up with a level of consistency that’s been missing from his game in recent years.

Elflein was finally put out of his misery by the Minnesota Vikings after becoming a real weak link in their protection. He was subsequently scooped up off the waiver wire by the New York Jets without doing enough to earn a longer-term stay beyond last season.

The Panthers obviously see something in Elflein. They wouldn’t have given him a three-year, $13.5 million deal with a $1.1 million signing bonus and $6 million guaranteed otherwise.

But it’s hard to look at Elflein’s production since arriving in the league with any great confidence.

He has the versatility to play at guard or as a center, which was a component Carolina looked for in almost every new recruit this offseason. Elflein also has a lot of starting experience, which could be a stop-gap until rookies such as Brady Christensen and Deonte Brown are ready for more playing time.

This could go either way, in all honesty.

Elflein’s career as a starter is hanging by a thread. Unless there is a big turnaround in production almost from the off, it’s going to be a significant problem for both the player and the Panthers.