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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Damien Lewis - Carolina Panthers OL

Solidifying the offensive line quickly became a top priority for the Carolina Panthers when the legal tampering period before free agency commenced. Dan Morgan didn't have much money to spend, but he allocated a substantial amount to ensure quarterback Bryce Young has interior protection to depend upon in 2024.

Robert Hunt was the first marquee arrival, penning a $100 million deal that included a $26.5 million signing bonus and $63 million guaranteed. Morgan wasn't done there.

The new general manager also secured Damien Lewis, who's got a previous working relationship with head coach Dave Canales from their time together on the Seattle Seahawks. He got a four-year, $53 million contract with a $15 million signing bonus and $26.21 million guaranteed.

Lewis immediately becomes Carolina's starting left guard. He should form a formidable partnership with Hunt and converted center Austin Corbett. Of the three, he's arguably the most important.

Here's why.

Not only must Lewis provide an upturn in production, but he must also become a security blanket of sorts for Ikem Ekwonu. The left tackle is getting another shot next season despite going through significant complications in Year 2 of his professional career. His technical flaws became exposed with no consistent presence alongside him once Brady Christensen went to injured reserve. Carolina cannot afford something similar to happen again.

Lewis' presence should give Ekwonu the confidence needed to focus on his task and not worry about the interior. At the same time, the new arrival can pick up stunts and shifts more effectively - something he can communicate to the former first-round pick out of North Carolina State along the way.

In the event Lewis missed time, Christensen would step back into the left guard role. But if the Panthers had any confidence, those in power wouldn't have shelled out a hefty commitment to get what they believe to be a massive upgrade.

That's why Lewis is pivotal to the Panthers - and Ekwonu's - hopes of bouncing back in 2024.