How does the Carolina Panthers roster stack up against the NFL’s best ahead of what is sure to be another eventful 2022 season?
Even the brightest optimist would have difficulty explaining why they think the Carolina Panthers can push for the playoffs in 2022. It’s been a series of underachieving campaigns since their iconic run to the Super Bowl in 2015, with team owner David Tepper failing to enjoy a winning season since buying the franchise for a record sum at the time.
Matt Rhule is a man under pressure after accumulating just 10 wins over his first two years as head coach. Confidence remains high in the former Baylor man from ownership and spirits are high within the locker room, which could be the springboard for bigger and better things next time around despite the obvious tests to come.
It’s been an offseason of substantial drama from start to finish across the NFL. Bold trades for All-Pro level talent were plentiful, free agents got mega money, and there were some who got bumper new deals way ahead of time.
Carolina was active and struck with conviction when the right opportunities came along. Some established veterans departed in free agency, but the depth chart looks stronger now than the one that concluded the 2021 season, which is all fans could ask for with the finances available before free agency got underway.
Carolina Panthers roster ranked No. 27 in Pro Football Focus ranking
An interesting recent feature from Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus ranked every NFL roster ahead of training camp. Carolina was pretty low down the pecking order at No. 27, which is down in no small part to the ongoing questions surrounding the quarterback position.
That comes as no surprise to fans or anyone who’s played close attention to the Panthers‘ progress since Rhule took over as head coach. However, Linsey did highlight the improvements across the offensive line as one of the team’s real strengths heading into a pivotal campaign.
"“The only real question about the Panthers’ supporting cast on offense was their offensive line, and the Ikem Ekwonu, Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett additions should go a long way toward putting that unit on the right track.”"
Obviously, everything must come together quickly in camp under the expert guidance of offensive line coach James Campen. But if the Panthers get improved protection at every position, it will do their chances an untold amount of good.
The Panthers also have the option of further reinforcements with $24.37 million in available cap space. Trade speculation regarding a move for Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo continues despite little happening on that front since before Carolina’s mandatory minicamp, with another capable presence on the defensive line also under consideration.
Things haven’t been great for the Panthers, which is why you have to scroll a long way down most rankings like this before the season. The task awaiting them is steep with a tough schedule to overcome, but the talent is there providing they can somehow generate early momentum with five of their opening six games at Bank of America Stadium.
Adopting a wait-and-see approach and hoping for the best is probably the best way to go right now. Expectations that could increase if a new quarterback is acquired before Carolina takes the field in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.