5 players the Carolina Panthers cannot live without in 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

3. player. 87. . DE. Carolina Panthers. BRIAN BURNS

Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers DE

There will be more pressure than ever on Brian Burns in 2022 after the Carolina Panthers opted to let Haason Reddick leave in free agency and sign for the Philadelphia Eagles. The defensive end put up career numbers to secure his first Pro Bowl selection last time around, but this also comes with additional attention from opposing protection schemes that the player needs to be ready for.

Burns has all the attributes to become an elite pass-rusher. It’s coming together slowly, but with a megabucks contract extension in the offing, the former first-round selection must make significant waves in Year 4 of his professional career.

Considering the depth chart pieces at Carolina’s disposal, losing Burns to injury would be a massive blow. He is one of their most indispensable players heading into the new campaign and it’s unlikely that others would be able to replicate what he brings to the table.

Fortunately for the Panthers, Burns has been pretty durable throughout his time in the league so far. He has missed just one game and this is a trend that Carolina hopes can continue next season and beyond.

The Panthers do have some cap space to strengthen their pass-rushing options should they wish. But that should not detract from what an important figure Burns will be on and off the field for the team in 2022.