6 players the Carolina Panthers can't afford to lose to injury in 2024

These Carolina Panthers players have to stay healthy in 2024.
Jaycee Horn
Jaycee Horn / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Derrick Brown - Carolina Panthers DL

The Carolina Panthers don't have many franchise cornerstone pieces. Most worthy of that distinction have been traded away in recent years. Fortunately, the new regime recognized Derrick Brown's importance and reacted accordingly.

After breaking the NFL's single-season tackle record for interior defensive linemen, Brown had a tremendous amount of leverage heading into the offseason. Fans were watching his contract talks closely after how those in power previously mismanaged Brian Burns' contract situation. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch.

Brown penned a lucrative new contract that keeps the former first-round pick out of Auburn around for his prime years. The Pro Bowler is now being paid among the league's best at the position. Putting this positive momentum to good use in 2024 could see the player enter All-Pro consideration along the way.

The Panthers are once again relying heavily on Brown next season. A'Shawn Robinson is a new arrival who should be an upgraded partner for the mainstay. Options are a little thin on the ground aside from that, so keeping this starting 3-4 defensive end tandem on the field at all times is imperative.

Fortunately, Brown knows how to take care of his body despite the violent position in which he plays. He's not missed a game for two seasons and always seems to be in peak physical condition. But with added attention coming his way from opposing protection schemes, all it takes is one awkward collision to change that in an instant.

If Brown missed time, the Panthers would be relying on the likes of Nick Thurman, LaBryan Ray, or sixth-round pick Jaden Crumedy. The fifth-year pro is nothing short of indispensable. Losing him would put pay to their defensive hopes of being competitive under progressive coordinator Ejiro Evero in 2024.

Brown is a strong character and a hugely influential presence. With big money comes big responsibility - something the player is abundantly aware of.