5 former Carolina Panthers who are still surprisingly free agents in 2024

When will these former Carolina Panthers players find new homes?
Marquis Haynes Sr.
Marquis Haynes Sr. / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
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Marquis Haynes Sr. - Former Carolina Panthers OLB

Marquis Haynes Sr. had a big opportunity awaiting him in 2024. Many thought he could become the starting outside linebacker opposite Brian Burns in Ejiro Evero's 3-4 base defensive scheme. This is something he worked hard to attain after becoming a dependable rotational edge presence throughout his time with the Carolina Panthers.

Couple this with being a contract year, and it's not hard to see why hopes were high for Haynes. Unfortunately for the former fourth-round pick out of Ole Miss, things didn't go according to plan through no real fault of his own.

Haynes suffered a troubling back complication at the worst possible time. This restricted him to just seven games last time around and he lacked the production Carolina's fanbase had come to typically expect from the popular figure.

The Panthers went in a different direction and Haynes remains without a home. Considering how impactful he's been on a rotational basis throughout his career, it's a surprising turn of events. However, this probably has a lot to do with the back issue and whether it's going to bring further complications down the line.

Eli Apple - Former Carolina Panthers CB

Who could forget Eli Apple's prolific stint with the Carolina Panthers? Just kidding, it was an unmitigated disaster.

Apple was acquired early in Matt Rhule's reign and didn't last very long. There was a clash in personalities between the cornerback and head coach, but he's gone on to carve a decent role for himself on contending teams in the years following his departure.

After spending last season with the Miami Dolphins, Apple emerged as a solid if not spectacular performer. He gives up big plays often, which is a concern at this stage of his career, but the fact he remains out of employment when so many teams around the league are desperate for improved cornerback depth is a damning indictment of how his skill set is being perceived.

Someone will likely turn to Apple once injury strikes and there are dwindling options available. Once this opportunity arrives, the former first-round selection out of Ohio State is formally entering the last chance saloon.