4 Panthers that must improve to secure long-term future beyond 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Bravvion Roy
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Bravvion Roy /
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Carolina Panthers
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

Much has been made of the Carolina Panthers letting Haason Reddick walk in free agency. Exceptional pass-rushers are at a premium across the league, so allowing someone that attained 11 sacks during his one and only season with the team leave was strange despite the financial outlay.

This indicated supreme confidence in Yetur Gross-Matos making the necessary jump. The defensive end flashed promise from a rotational role, but the former second-round selection is finding life more difficult producing the goods opposite Brian Burns from a starting role.

Gross-Matos has just 0.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, and four pressures from 69 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps in 2022. If the same trend continues over the second half of the campaign, finding an edge rusher from the college ranks will be among the team’s top priorities next spring.

Perhaps Gross-Matos might be better suited to a rotational role based on what he’s displayed this season. But that’s not what the Panthers envisaged when they took the pass-rusher at No. 38 overall out of Penn State during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Carolina resisted the temptation to trade Burns for a king’s ransom before the deadline. Considering how inconsistent others are at getting after the quarterback, they made the right call even though it’s going to cost them a whopping amount on his new deal.