4 Carolina Panthers entering the 2023 offseason on a short leash

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith /

Shi Smith – Carolina Panthers WR

Shi Smith is entering his third season with the Carolina Panthers and has 400 receiving yards to his name. Part of this could be tied to Matt Rhule’s poor offensive scheme and the quarterbacks he’s played with, but all of the excuses are now gone for a player who is on the fringes of the wide receiver depth chart.

Smith is going to have to put together a huge camp and preseason to win a contributing role after an underwhelming first two seasons. This past season, the former sixth-round selection ended the campaign with 296 receiving yards and his first two career touchdowns – though his catch percentage remained concerningly low at 53.7 percent.

This is a make-or-break year for Smith in Carolina. With the team likely adding depth to the position, he is in danger of being pushed out of the rotation.

The one-time South Carolina playmaker must prove he can make the contested catch with more regularity and use his quickness to get open and find the hole in the zone. Smith is great after the catch, the problem has been actually making the play.

This is not a great trait to struggle with for a receiver. Smith is on his rookie deal and unlikely to be cut, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him fall out of the rotation completely if he doesn’t make a quick impression during the upcoming preparation period.