5 Carolina Panthers who cannot afford to get complacent in 2024

These Carolina Panthers players must keep their foot on the gas.
Shaq Thompson
Shaq Thompson / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Diontae Johnson - Carolina Panthers WR

It wasn't just free agency and the draft where the Carolina Panthers strengthened their ranks. Those in power also secured the services of wide receiver Diontae Johnson via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Something that comes with a significant level of intrigue attached.

Johnson is one of the league's best route-runners. He knows how to manipulate opposing defensive backs through quick movements and exceptional body control. This was a low-risk, high-reward pickup by the Panthers that cost nothing more than veteran cornerback Donte Jackson and a late-round pick swap. Furthermore, his skill set is exactly what Carolina lacked in the passing game aside from Adam Thielen in 2023.

There are concerns. Johnson's time in Pittsburgh ended on a disappointing note with rumors of friction between the wideout and his teammates. Mike Tomlin was eager to dispose of the player this offseason, so the motivation to silence his increasing doubters is there for all to see.

Avoiding complacency and being a willing team player is only going to help Johnson. If he remains focused and strives for a return to his old form, a new contract in 2025 won't be too far behind.

Shaq Thompson - Carolina Panthers LB

There have been very few constants across the Carolina Panthers throughout David Tepper's ownership. This bares more significance on the playing side, with only J.J. Jansen and Shaq Thompson remaining from their iconic run to the Super Bowl in 2015.

That was a long time ago and it's been a constant spiral into the abyss since then. Thompson's eager to get this once-proud organization back to relevancy. Just how much he'll be able to contribute after coming back from a season-ending injury during the previous campaign is another matter.

Thompson's worked hard to get back to fitness and looks the part during early workouts. He looks set to start alongside Josey Jewell at the defensive second level interior, but he'll know better than anybody how much hard work is ahead after how things unfolded during another year to forget in 2023.

The former first-round selection out of Washington is being counted upon heavily once again. Thompson is also the undisputed locker room alpha, so raising standards and ensuring no complacency creeps into the organization will be among his primary objectives next time around.