4 nightmare scenarios for the Carolina Panthers in 2024

Can the Carolina Panthers make some sort of progress in 2024?

David Tepper
David Tepper / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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What nightmare scenarios are the Carolina Panthers looking to avoid heading into a crucial 2024 calendar year for the franchise?

The 2023 NFL season was as bad as it gets for the Carolina Panthers. They still might not be out of the woods yet. And to make matters worse, their first-round pick in 2024 belongs to the Chicago Bears.

Not only did the Panthers win just two games in 2023, they don't even have their top pick to at least take advantage of the bad year. This is the No. 1 overall selection, rubbing further salt into the wound.

Virtually nothing went right for the Panthers this year. On Monday morning, the team parted ways with general manager Scott Fitterer, a move that was desperately needed. Now, for what feels like the 86th year in a row, the team will undergo some sort of significant change.

I guess if you want some good news, Panthers owner David Tepper hired a consultancy firm recently to help with the coming coaching search. But as we all know, the billionaire will be the one making the final decisions here, for better or for worse.

This could lead to some nightmare scenarios for the Panthers in 2024. Here are four such examples.

Carolina Panthers miss out on WR free agents

According to Over The Cap, the Carolina Panthers will have roughly $30 million in cap space this offseason. That is plenty enough to add some free agent talent at wide receiver. As of now, the top free agents at that position include Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr., Mike Evans, and Calvin Ridley.

There are also some mid-tier free agents like Tyler Boyd, Curtis Samuel, and Josh Reynolds, among others. I think a huge nightmare scenario would be if those top wide receiver free agents end up with their current teams in 2024 or if they sign with another franchise with better chances to contend immediately.

I do think it's a possibility that guys like Higgins, Pittman, Evans, and Ridley either get franchise-tagged or sign a long-term deal with their current teams. The Panthers have to hope at least one hits the open market.

The Panthers truly need a stud WR1 for the sake of Bryce Young's development. My personal favorite would be Higgins, who is in the shadows of Ja'Marr Chase with the Cincinnati Bengals.

With Chase being eligible for an extension this offseason, perhaps the Bengals would let Higgins hit the open market. In that case, the Panthers need to do everything they can to bring him to Carolina.

Higgins getting franchise-tagged by Cincy or even signing elsewhere would be a nightmare scenario.