4 underachieving Panthers players who must step up in 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /
3 of 4
Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Pat Elflein /

Pat Elflein – Carolina Panthers OL

Although the prospect of Pat Elflein starting for the Carolina Panthers in 2022 is unlikely considering the improvements made across the offensive line, the veteran could still have a big part to play. Injuries typically occur in this area of the field, so he’ll need to be ready to fill in when needed almost anywhere across the interior.

The Panthers gave Elflein a hefty contract in 2020 free agency despite his previous lack of production with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets. Even though the Ohio State product was credited for conceding zero sacks last season according to Pro Football Focus, there were countless times when his blocking was not up to the required standard.

This left Carolina with no option other than to find better alternatives. The coaching staff also holds high hopes that Brady Christensen can emerge as a prominent starter after impressing at times during his rookie campaign.

Elflein has his work cut out and he’ll need to impress new offensive line coach James Campen along the way. But whichever way it goes for the former third-round pick, this is highly likely to be his final season in Carolina given the savings involved with an early release in 2023.

Cutting Elflein with one year remaining on his deal saves the Panthers $4.75 million in cap space. Something that’s almost guaranteed considering they are projected to be $30 million in the red next offseason.