Potential Carolina Panthers draft bust could be cut after 2024 camp

Could the Carolina Panthers cut this experiment short?
Ejiro Evero
Ejiro Evero / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

The Carolina Panthers have some serious complications to solve before the 2024 season. Dan Morgan, Brandt Tilis, and Dave Canales revamped the roster with a plethora of new additions throughout their first offseason in positions of power. This was a much-needed boost, but it's also their first step in what is a vast rebuilding process.

One of the biggest potential problems centers on the edge-rushing options at defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero's disposal. The Panthers traded Brian Burns to the New York Giants after the previous regime managed his contract situation horribly. Frankie Luvu turned down an extension to sign for the Washington Commanders. With Yetur Gross-Matos also taking his chances elsewhere, it leaves the pass-rush exposed unless someone steps up.

Jadeveon Clowney and D.J. Wonnum will start if the latter makes a successful return from a torn quad. The depth pieces don't inspire much confidence unless an unheralded option surges forward. This has the potential to become a weak link that could hold them back considerably.

The Panthers ranked last around the league in sacks per game in 2023 with 1.6. That's where near good enough, so anything less than raised performance levels throughout the offseason might see Morgan make more alterations before Week 1 at the New Orleans Saints.

NFL writer highlights D.J. Johnson as potential Carolina Panthers cut candidate in 2024

D.J. Johnson is under more pressure than most. The second-year player was almost anonymous as a rookie despite the Panthers trading up to secure his services at No. 80 overall. Given his age and minimal contribution, Schuyler Callihan from Fan Nation believes the former Oregon star could be a potential cut candidate unless significant adjustments arrive.

"When the [Carolina] Panthers made the trade up in the draft a year ago to select DJ Johnson, I was shocked. They saw the pass rushers flying off the board and panicked. Taking a 24-year-old who converted from tight end and had only one year of solid pass rush production was a big risk. So far, it hasn't worked out. It's still early in his NFL career, but he is 25 going on 26. How much can he really improve if he doesn't turn the corner soon? He battled injuries all spring and not being on the field really hurts his development."

Schuyler Callihan, Fan Nation

It would be hard to find someone among the fanbase who had a positive reaction to the Panthers drafting Johnson. Scott Fitterer saw edge rushers start falling off his board and panicked for fear of missing out entirely. It's not the player's fault he was selected way above consensus projections. This situation was a microcosm of the previous general manager's reign and he paid with his job.

Johnson got plenty of reps during early offseason workouts with Wonnum on the shelf and Clowney skipping some sessions. Another frustrating injury brought any momentum to an abrupt halt, so watching his progress closely throughout camp will be critical to his chances of making a better go of things next time around.

Morgan's been ruthless with his roster construction to this point. He was part of the war room that moved up for Johnson, but that won't prevent him from cutting this experiment short if he doesn't feel like progress is being made.

The lack of sufficient depth and the fact that Evero gave Johnson his seal of approval might give the player a reprieve. But nobody could say that with any guarantee.