Panthers Cuts Tracker: Who did not make the final 53-man roster for 2022?
By Dean Jones
Which Carolina Panthers players did not make it through onto the 53-man roster after an eventful offseason period for the franchise?
It’s one of the most somber days in the league year. The Carolina Panthers and others across the NFL will be ending dreams and beginning underdog stories by deciding on their 53-man roster for the 2022 season.
This normally comes with disappointment, shocks, and everything in between. The Panthers know they must get almost every decision right with so much on the line, with head coach Matt Rhule needing to show some signs of progress after two five-win campaigns since taking over from Ron Rivera.
Carolina left no stone unturned this offseason putting the necessary pieces in place. The offensive line got a significant makeover, there are coaches with legitimate NFL experience, and Baker Mayfield could provide the spark under center that’s been sorely missing in recent years.
And as is always the case when general manager Scott Fitterer is involved, there could be a surprise or two along the way.
Carolina Panthers trade for Laviska Shenault Jr.
The Panthers began their roster trimming by adding another weapon. A deal was struck with the Jacksonville Jaguars for Laviska Shenault Jr., who failed to meet expectations in Florida and is looking to embrace another opportunity.
Carolina now has Jacksonville’s first two selections from the 2020 NFL Draft after acquiring C.J. Henderson last season. Shenault is expected to fill a hybrid running back/wide receiver role, which the Colorado product seems suited for based on his skill set.
Shenault has also worked previously with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who likely had a big part to play in this deal.
Carolina Panthers trade Dennis Daley to the Titans
In another eye-catching move on Monday evening, the Panthers traded away a seventh-round pick and Dennis Daley to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a fifth-rounder. When one considers the offensive lineman was likely to be cut, getting something back in return was a tremendous decision by the front office.
Daley’s physical attributes were never in question. But this was not matched by consistency, accountability, or durability with the former sixth-round selection out of South Carolina.
The Panthers made some notable upgrades to their protection this offseason. This left Daley surplus to requirements and the player can have no complaints whatsoever.
Carolina Panthers cut tracker for their final 53-man roster in 2022
The first major domino to fall was Deonte Brown, a former sixth-round selection who struggled to bring his prolific college form at Alabama over to the Panthers.
Conditioning and weight issues blighted his time with the team. Brown just couldn’t;t get anything going this offseason and the emergence of rookie Cade Mays made the interior offensive lineman surplus to requirements.
Another notable player waived was Darryl Johnson. The defensive end arrived via trade from the Buffalo Bills but was seldom seen on the defensive rotation in 2021.
Considering the lack of depth Carolina has on the edge, Johnson had a big opportunity this offseason to stake a claim. Unfortunately, the lineman just couldn’t do enough.
Keith Kirkwood was always going to find life difficult in a crowded wide receiver room. Although he was cut on Tuesday, there’s a good chance he comes back onto the practice squad if another team doesn’t scoop him up off the waiver wire.
Defensive back Madre Harper and offensive linemen Mike Horton were also let go. In Horton’s case, he’s another practice squad candidate thanks to his versatility.
John Lovett enjoyed a strong preseason that concluded with an impressive showing against the Bills. However, this was not enough for the Penn State product to force his way onto the 53-man roster – a task that was made more difficult by Shenault’s arrival.
Linebacker Josh Watson was brought in pretty late and hasn’t made the necessary impact. Defensive end Austin Larkin‘s latest stint in Carolina is also over, but he’s another that could enter practice squad consideration.
Undrafted wide receiver Ra’Shaun Henry was let go as anticipated. Sam Tecklenburg – who saw time on the field in 2021 and is a former Rhule college player at Baylor – was waived thanks in no small part to the presence of center duo Bradley Bozeman and Pat Elflein.
There was a sense of excitement surrounding Charleston Rambo heading into the offseason. But the undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Miami was let go within a positional group that could be an area of real strength in 2022 if everyone meets expectations.
The impact made by cornerback Tae Hayes throughout his time with the Panthers was impressive. Even with some serious momentum, the Appalachian State product was unable to make the 53-man roster.
One of the more impressive performers during training camp was Derek Wright. The pocket rocket at wide receiver looked like a lively contender to make the team once upon a time, but finding a role for the undrafted free agent is something those in power couldn’t accommodate given their strength in depth at the position.
Kenny Robinson getting himself ejected from both days of joint practices with the New England Patriots was all the Panthers needed to cut him loose. The safety made some notable strides on the defensive rotation and as a special teamer, but this fine margin seems to have made a big difference to his aspirations.
Defensive end Drew Jordan was a fringe figure throughout camp and didn’t make it as anticipated. Brandon Zylstra, the ultra-consistent wide receiver and special teams ace, was also released in one of the more surprising moves of the day.
Zylstra had a nice camp and was one of the few dependable targets in Carolina last season. However, he became the odd man out after the signings of Rashard Higgins and Shenault coupled with the growing emergence of Shi Smith.
The Panthers also waived Kalon Barnes, the speedy cornerback who Carolina selected in the seventh-round this year. He was always going to be a development project that could help on special teams, but considering he was a Rhule guy from Baylor, it comes as a surprise he wasn’t given time as part of the 53-man roster.
Barnes is a lock to make the practice squad if he clears waivers. But his elite speed is something that might attract a suitor or two.
Another practice squad player that was let go is Colin Thompson. The tight end was a popular member of the locker room, but the Panthers are eager to move forward with Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble in the hope offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo can unlock some magic.
Full list of Carolina Panthers’ final roster cuts in 2022
- Deonte Brown – OL
- Darryl Johnson – DE
- Keith Kirkwood – WR
- Madre Harper – DB
- Mike Horton – OL
- John Lovett – RB
- Josh Watson – LB
- Austin Larkin – DE
- Ra’Shaun Henry – WR
- Sam Tecklenburg – C
- Charleston Rambo – WR
- Tae Hayes – CB
- Derek Wright – WR
- Kenny Robinson – S
- Drew Jordan – DE
- Brandon Zylstra – WR
- Kalon Barnes – CB
- Colin Thompson – TE
- Josh Babicz – TE
- Spencer Brown – RB
- C.J. Saunders – WR
- Frank Herron – DT
- Aaron Mosby – LB
- Isaiah Graham-Mobley – LB
- Juston Burris – S