5 Carolina Panthers fighting for their futures at 2023 midseason point

It's not gone according to plan...

Frank Reich
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Donte Jackson - Carolina Panthers CB

In fairness to Donte Jackson, the cornerback's been playing decent football over the last fortnight. The veteran is making his presence felt consistently against the run and is becoming more disciplined in coverage, which is exactly what the Carolina Panthers were looking for with Jaycee Horn out of the lineup.

Before the bye, it was less impressive from Jackson. He got burned for big plays constantly, was targeted heavily as a potential weak link downfield by opposing offenses, and cut a frustrated figure as the Panthers fell into the abyss.

Jackson's influence within the locker room as a top-level motivator cannot be questioned. But there is also the business element to consider when examining the player's future with the franchise.

The former second-round selection out of LSU is set to count $15.18 million against the salary cap on the final year of his deal in 2024. That's elite money for the position, which Jackson cannot claim to be.

Cutting Jackson with a post-June 1 designation comes with savings of more than $10 million attached. Jackson must prove he's worthy of such a big financial commitment over Carolina's final eight games, but the full body of career work might dictate this ship has already sailed.

Those within the building value Jackson more than most fans. So nothing can be ruled out if the same regime remains.