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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Adam Thielen - Carolina Panthers WR

  • 2023 salary: $3.3 million

Adam Thielen turned a few heads when he ignored the advances of potential playoff hopefuls to sign for the Carolina Panthers in free agency. This was surprising to many. It also legitimized the project those in power were selling to veteran players during a frantic offseason.

Sadly, this turned out to be fool's gold. The Panthers got worse, not better. Many of their big-name signings failed to meet the required standards. Promising young players who were being counted upon to leap forward fluffed their lines.

This was not the case with Thielen. The wide receiver emerged as the only consistent threat in the passing game. He was Bryce Young's go-to guy despite his advancing years. Nobody else came close to meeting expectations, but the former undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State exceeded them.

Thielen attained his first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2018, a remarkable accomplishment in the circumstances. He also represented tremendous value with a salary-cap hit of just $3.3 million.

It seems as if Thielen has a couple more good years left in the tank. That's why it wouldn't be surprising to see the veteran try and force his way out of Carolina so that his twilight years aren't wasted on one of the league's bottom feeders.