4 biggest surprises of Carolina Panthers 2023 free agency so far

Scott Fitterer
Scott Fitterer / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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What are the biggest surprises to emerge from an eventful free agency period for the Carolina Panthers in 2023?

The Carolina Panthers had a lot on their plate heading into free agency. Momentum was high thanks to Frank Reich's arrival and the all-star coaching staff assembled, which put the onus squarely on general manager Scott Fitterer to put the right playing personnel in place for genuine improvements next season. 

Fitterer looks like a completely different character without Matt Rhule holding him back. The respected front office figure is eager to stamp his own mark on the franchise with roster control for the first time, which has come with a professional, collaborative approach more in keeping with success throughout NFL history.

This aggressiveness saw Carolina sacrifice a significant amount to secure the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Something that could finally see the organization land its franchise quarterback if the correct prospect comes into the fold. 

Without further ado, here are the four biggest surprises of a busy free agency period for the Panthers in 2023. 

Surprise No. 1

Carolina Panthers
Samir Suleiman / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

Carolina Panthers masterful cap management

Things didn't look too promising once upon a time in terms of salary-cap space for the Carolina Panthers this offseason. However, their financial management has been masterful throughout the process and something those in power deserve endless credit for accomplishing. 

Quality players were acquired on team-friendly deals and the Panthers also retained Shaq Thompson on a reworked deal. There is still more than enough to sign their 2023 NFL Draft class and make an in-season move or two should they wish. 

Carolina now has $86 million in 2024 cap space with 28 players under contract. The long-term financial damage has been minimal, which is thanks in no small part to Samir Suleiman's presence and his vast experience of cap maneuvering.