4 Carolina Panthers running out of time to secure new deals in 2023

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sean Ryan and Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sean Ryan and Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Stephen Sullivan /

Stephen Sullivan – Carolina Panthers TE

Finding production from a pass-catching standpoint at the tight-end position is an ongoing problem. Ian Thomas’ blocking is commendable, but much more is needed if the Carolina Panthers want to legitimately contend in the coming years.

There were high hopes for Stephen Sullivan after a strong training camp. The LSU product deservedly earned his place on the 53-man roster, but opportunities have been few and far between for the player during the campaign.

In fairness to Sullivan, he got injured at a bad time and has been unable to return to anything like the productive presence everyone witnessed in Spartanburg. But if he cannot force more targets over the next three games, it’s hard to envisage a situation where he gets another deal from the Panthers next spring.

Sullivan has the physical attributes normally associated with productive NFL tight ends. However, there is something that’s preventing the Panthers from leaning on him heavily, which is a stance that’s unlikely to waver unless they are mathematically out of the NFC South running.

This is a critical stage of Sullivan’s career. If he cannot make a go of things in Carolina, the player’s future becomes increasingly murky considering the strength of tight ends emerging from the college ranks in 2023.