4 Carolina Panthers with uncertain futures at 2024 training camp

The wave of uncertainty hangs over these Carolina Panthers players.
Chandler Zavala
Chandler Zavala / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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When the Carolina Panthers get training camp underway, the backdrop will be completely different. The players won’t be roommates in a college dorm for the first time in franchise history. The team will cut the ribbon on new practice fields in Charlotte, right near the site of their regular season, and at once upon a time postseason, home games at Bank of America Stadium.

It’s a new tradition. One that pairs nicely with the new regime and new energy for the previously directionless Panthers.

While many aspects of camp will be new, the core principles remain intact - condition, compete, and improve. The program will contain 14 practices and will span over four weeks, beginning on Wednesday, July 24. Back Together Saturday will be held at Bank of America Stadium on July 27. Fan Fest will be held in Memorial Stadium at Clemson University on August 1. The culmination coming via joint practice with the New York Jets on Thursday, August 15.

This is a pivotal camp for numerous reasons. Head coach Dave Canales is tasked with rebuilding the offensive identity of this football team and getting appropriate results from former No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. That means another new scheme and playbook for the men on that side of the ball.

The defense lost two of its best players with the departures of Brian Burns and Frankie Luvu. Position battles will be plentiful and roster spots are limited.

Sun Tzu says in The Art of War, “Every battle is won before it is ever fought.” With that in mind, let’s explore four Panthers players whose future is uncertain coming into training camp.

Chandler Zavala - Carolina Panthers OL

When Chandler Zavala was selected in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, many fans had high hopes that the Carolina Panthers landed a gem and the future starter at one of the guard positions along the offensive line. However, his first NFL season was brutal.

Before getting into the quality of play component, the former First Team All-ACC lineman suffered multiple concerning injuries. A neck issue resulted in him being carted off the field in Week 5. This was followed by a knee complication in Week 12 that ended his debut campaign.

Zavala dealt with injury in his collegiate career, so the inability to stay on the field is fair to factor into his evaluation for the future. More than that, though, is how well you perform on the field. That might be even worse news for the former North Carolina State big man.

Through his 374 snaps played in 2023, the rookie earned a league-worst 26.2 overall blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, including the far-away bottom-graded 7.1 pass-blocking figure. He allowed 33 pressures on 233 opportunities, which equates to a 14.2 percent rate. The 'saving grace' was the player's run-blocking grade of 41.5. This was good for the fifth-worst of all guards for the season.

Context always matters. The offensive unit was dysfunctional. But the individual play was abysmal for the 6-foot-4, 322-pound Florida native.

The idea was that he’d find success lined up next to his former teammate Ikem Ekwonu and that his top-rated 2022 season would translate in the pros. That outlook has changed with the free-agent signings of Damien Lewis and Robert Hunt.

The opportunity to start has passed. Zavala is now fighting for a reserve spot on the depth chart with Brady Christensen, Cade Mays, J.D. DiRenzo, and Nash Jensen - all of whom have more positional flexibility than he seemingly brings to the table.