5 Carolina Panthers players unlikely to return in 2023

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Pat Elflein /

Pat Elflein – Carolina Panthers C

Considering the expectations surrounding Pat Elflein before the 2022 season, his performances were largely encouraging. The offensive line has been one of the biggest improvements made by the Carolina Panthers throughout the campaign, which leaves hope that the organization has finally solved a frustrating, long-term riddle.

Elflein returning to the position where he starred in college obviously helped. Just why the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and the Panthers kept playing him at the guard spot is anyone’s guess, but an unfortunate injury ruled him out for the season and free-agent signing Bradley Bozeman’s taken full advantage of his starting chance.

The former Alabama standout fitted in seamlessly, improving consistency on the field and making a lasting impact across the community for good measure. Carolina would be wise to extend the player next spring, which could mean Elflein won’t see out the final year of his deal where he is set to count $7.55 million against the cap.

Much will depend on how Steve Wilks or a new coaching staff sees the situation. But cutting Elflein ahead of time saves the Panthers $4.75 million, which could be used as part of a package to keep Bozeman around in 2023.

The NFL is a cutthroat business. And there should be no sentiment involved when it comes to successfully building a contender.