How Carolina Panthers get better in the offseason
How can this team get better after the season? I don’t know what the salary cap situation is but remember we also don’t have a first-round pick. - Jack Lee
Great question, Jack. I love to talk about hypotheticals, especially when it comes to the offseason.
According to Spotrac, the Carolina Panthers are projected to have $42.4 million in cap space in 2024, more than enough to sign quality starters on both sides of the ball at positions of need. Some base salary restructuring to the contracts of Taylor Moton and tight end Hayden Hurst along with releasing cornerback Donte Jackson would increase their cap space to $60.3 million.
Of course, star pass rusher Brian Burns' potential contract or franchise tag will decrease that total by a decent margin. Frankie Luvu and Derrick Brown could also be signed to long-term deals.
Carolina won't fill every need in one offseason - it is a rarity to do so. However, a No. 1 wide receiver and quality starting outside rush linebacker should be the top two priorities for whoever the general manager is - followed by cornerback, starting four-technique defensive lineman, nose tackle, center, and depth across the board.
I didn't include left tackle because I believe Ikem Ekwonu will get another crack at that spot. If it doesn't work out, the position will be an area of need in 2025 with the first-round selection in tow.
Out of all of those needs, I expect Carolina to focus their efforts on adding one of if not the top wide receiver in free agency and a productive pass rusher opposite of Burns. Adding a nose tackle and competition at center should also be prioritized. Cornerback might not be fully addressed - it is a rebuild after all.
In the draft, a wide receiver or a pass rusher should be the favorites for Carolina's second and third-round selections. They must also focus on adding depth at multiple positions, especially along the offensive line and cornerback.
That is where I am with how the Panthers could approach free agency and the NFL Draft as of today. We'll have a much clearer picture of the team's potential offseason plans around the end of December - the dog days of the regular season.