4 position groups the Carolina Panthers must upgrade in 2024

The new regime has a lot of hard work ahead.

D.J. Chark Jr.
D.J. Chark Jr. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers must upgrade the WR spot

The Carolina Panthers wide receiver room was another position that underwhelmed severely in 2023. It was a makeover compared to 2022 with the departure of D.J. Moore, who was traded to the Chicago Bears as part of the deal for quarterback Bryce Young.

Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark Jr. joined in free agency. These acquisitions seemed quite exciting at the time but didn’t translate to the production fans had hoped. However, Thielen had a nice season, tallying 103 receptions for 1,014 receiving yards and four touchdowns. 

Chark battled a couple of injuries, producing 35 receptions for 525 receiving yards and five scores. He made some nice plays but also cost his team thanks to some crucial drops. He's a free agent again this offseason and unlikely to return.

The Panthers also took Jonathan Mingo at No. 39 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. The former Ole Miss star had ups and downs during his rookie campaign, totaling 43 receptions for 418 receiving yards with no touchdowns. He saw plenty of snaps, but this playing time didn’t quite make the impact fans hoped.

After the preseason, the Panthers made a low-risk trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for Ihmir Smith-Marsette. He served as the team's punt returner for the 2023 season and even took one back for a touchdown.

Smith-Marsette was utilized in the Laviska Shenault Jr. role, meaning he saw a mix of carries and receptions. Toward the end of the season, he made some very impactful plays on offense. 

Terrace Marshall Jr. requested a trade due to being a healthy scratch for the majority of the season. Those in power didn’t receive any calls worth accepting and he remained with the team. That might not be the case for much longer.

Shenault had a nice start to the campaign but eventually sustained a second ankle injury which landed him on season-ending injured reserve. The Panthers should strongly consider pursuing a No. 1 receiver in the upcoming free agency window. The team could also opt to select a receiver at No. 33 overall or with one of their later draft picks.