4 Carolina Panthers players who outperformed their pay grade in 2023

The Carolina Panthers did get some bang for their buck.

Chuba Hubbard
Chuba Hubbard / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Derrick Brown - Carolina Panthers DL

  • 2023 salary: $7.5 million

Someone counting $7.5 million against the salary cap must have performed pretty well to outperform their pay grade. Derrick Brown did that and more during a phenomenal campaign.

Brown took a giant leap forward in 2022. He managed to put this newfound momentum to good use this season, breaking the NFL single-season record for tackles made by an interior defensive lineman. The former first-round pick was a menace from start to finish, enhancing his reputation as one of the league's most promising players at the position.

Despite being double-teamed on almost every play, Brown found a way to make a difference. He was the Carolina Panthers' best overall player by a considerable margin. He was unfortunate to be named only a first alternate for the Pro Bowl. Had the Auburn product been on a playoff team, there's a high chance an All-Pro selection wouldn't have been too far behind.

Simply put, Brown played like a $25 million defensive lineman. Something the Panthers must take into account when the time comes to extend their most devastating performer.

Brown has one year remaining on his rookie deal. If the Panthers had any sense, they would tie him down at the earliest possible opportunity to avoid the complications they're currently experiencing with stud edge rusher Brian Burns.