4 Carolina Panthers players with soaring stock after 2024 free agency

Things are looking up for these Carolina Panthers players...

Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

Much has been made about Ikem Ekwonu's significant regression during his NFL sophomore campaign. Things looked incredibly promising for the left tackle after a memorable first season with the Carolina Panthers. It began by getting baptized at the hands of formidable defensive end Myles Garrett, but he was pretty solid after that.

That wasn't the case last season. Ekwonu looked unsuited to the zone-blocking concepts implemented by Frank Reich and Thomas Brown. He looked sluggish technically and confidence waned as the season wore on. Some discipline issues became an ongoing frustration.

Perhaps most concerning was the fact that Ekwonu became an active target of opposing pass-rushing schemes as a weak link on Carolina's offensive line. Considering he was drafted No. 6 overall to become their franchise blindside enforcer, it was a deeply troubling turn of events.

Many fans wondered what the future might hold for Ekwonu, with speculation about switching to one of the guard positions coming up during fierce debates among the fanbase. Dan Morgan wasted no time in reaffirming his confidence in the North Carolina State product. He also shelled out big bucks to provide an extra sense of nastiness alongside him.

Damien Lewis and Robert Hunt being the two new starting guards should make everyone better. The Panthers also added a sense of urgency to the second-year-pro by signing swing tackle Yosh Nijman. This raises the stakes, but it's hard to envisage a scenario where Ekwonu doesn't bounce back in 2024.