How much will Miles Sanders move the Carolina Panthers' needle in 2023?
How much will Miles Sanders move the needle in 2023 after the running back joined the Carolina Panthers in free agency?
After the Carolina Panthers got some decent production from their running backs following their decision to trade Christian McCaffrey before the deadline, there was a good chance those in power would stand pat at the position. D'Onta Foreman proved he could shoulder the load, Chuba Hubbard shone as the primary backup, and Raheem Blackshear also flashed when allocated carries.
However, an opportunity presented itself that the Panthers couldn't ignore. One that came out of the blue and with a powerful sense of intrigue attached.
Miles Sanders signed a four-year, $25 million contract with the Panthers that also includes $13 million guaranteed. The dual-threat weapon gained more than 1,200 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the Philadelphia Eagles during their run to the Super Bowl in 2022 and at 25 years old, has plenty more to give.
Foreman wasn't out of work for long, signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth $3 million. While this would have been a cheaper option for Carolina, they clearly feel that Sanders is a massive upgrade that can make life much easier for their rookie quarterback transitioning from college to the pros.
Carolina Panthers are expecting big things from Miles Sanders in 2023
Just how much Sanders can shift the needle remains to be seen. He is a proven commodity in terms of strong performance levels, but it will be more difficult for the former second-round selection to gain yards without a signal-caller like Jalen Hurts commanding attention.
Before Hurts, the Eagles weren't blessed with much consistency at quarterback. Sanders still managed to put up lofty numbers, which is exactly what the Panthers want to alleviate pressure off someone like C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young in 2023.
Don't underestimate the influence of Duce Staley in this decision, either. The respected coach worked closely with Sanders during their time together on the Eagles and was no doubt sought his opinion before the Panthers made this eye-catching acquisition.
Foreman is good. Hubbard is decent. But Sanders comes with top-10 or perhaps even top-five running back potential next season providing his adjustment to a different environment goes according to plan.
This is going to be invaluable for Carolina's offense, which is expected to make considerable strides with Reich and Thomas Brown leading the charge. Sanders will be tasked with setting the tone, becoming a true every-down threat, and also helping his quarterback out of the backfield in the passing game for good measure.
Couple this with the addition of Hayden Hurst, Bradley Bozeman returning, and the promise of additions at the wide receiver spot, and it's the perfect spot for any college quarterback to learn and grow. Thanks to Reich's connections and David Tepper's bottomless cash pit, they also have the coaching staff for sustainable success.
Sanders' presence on and off the field should give everyone a massive lift. He comes from a winning franchise and is only going to get better over the next few years if no injury problems occur, so this is a major win for the Panthers during an offseason of immense change to date.
And hopefully, this can be another solid building block for whichever quarterback prospect becomes Carolina's future franchise player at No. 1 overall.