5 Carolina Panthers players lucky to escape Dan Morgan's roster cull

These Carolina Panthers players should be breathing a sigh of relief...
Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
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Ian Thomas - Carolina Panthers TE

Despite another underwhelming campaign, the Carolina Panthers opted not to remove Ian Thomas completely from the equation. The veteran tight end agreed to take another pay cut - his second in consecutive years - to stick around. This came with bemusement among the fanbase - most expected the former fourth-round pick to be made surplus to requirements.

Thomas has flattered to deceive on countless occasions. He was given a chance to fill the gaping void left by Greg Olsen in 2020 and couldn't raise his game accordingly. He's gradually evolved into a blocking specialist, but even that part of his game became subpar last time around.

Again, this is dependent on what Carolina has planned during the 2024 NFL Draft. The need for a new tight end is glaring despite those in power holding out hope Tommy Tremble can thrive with additional involvement. This is something that would also diminish Thomas' role, which wouldn't be a bad thing when one considers how the player regressed after flashing moments of quality as a rookie.

Chandler Zavala - Carolina Panthers OL

Chandler Zavala got more than he bargained for as a rookie. The Panthers threw him into the firing line too early - which came as a result of injuries to Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett. Their fourth-round selection couldn't rise to the occasion and looked completely overwhelmed from start to finish.

Zavala also dealt with some injury complications to rub further salt into his rookie wounds. This looked for all the smart money like another wasted pick from previous general manager Scott Futterer. While the temptation to cut their losses was there for all to see - especially after signing Damien Lewis and Robert Hunt - the Panthers haven't thrown in the towel just yet where the former North Carolina State star is concerned.

The interior lineman remains on the roster, for now. But if those in power add a couple more pieces to raise competition, Zavala faces a fight to make the 53-man roster. He must impress a coaching staff with no emotional attachment to their decision-making process, so there's a lot of hard work ahead this offseason.

All hope is not lost with Zavala if he's given time to develop. Unfortunately, this wasn't afforded to him by the incompetent previous coaching regime.