CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGHP) – The Carolina Panthers may have just missed the playoffs in a season of significant transition, but their players give the club high marks for being a good place to work.

The NFL Players Association released grades on a variety of topics for each team in the league after surveying 1,300 players, evaluating all aspects of the teams “away from the lights and cameras” to raise standards across the league and to help players “make important career decisions.”

Sam Darnold of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball and fumbles it into the end zone but is recovered by Michael Jordan (No. 73) for a touchdown during a game in January. The Panthers won at New Orleans. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The players evaluated their employers in eight key categories about the greater employment experience, and the NFLPA assigned a grade for each team in each of those categories.

Based on those grades, the Panthers ranked 12th overall, getting solid marks in every category except for “Nutrition” (more about that later).

Only the Minnesota Vikings received grades of A- or better in all eight categories. The Miami Dolphins would have except for a C+ in “How They Treat Families.” Those teams ranked 1-2 overall, with the Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys close behind.

At the bottom were the Washington Commanders (No. 32) and the Arizona Cardinals (No. 31). The Commanders rated an A+, tied for 1st, for “Strength Coaches,” but also recorded a D+, a D, an F and two F- grades among the eight. The Cardinals had two F and three F- grades.

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs ranked 29th overall and had only three grades above D+, with A- for “Strength Coaches” being best. The runner-up Philadelphia Eagles were 14th overall.

Among the four teams in the NFC South, the Panthers ranked second to the New Orleans Saints, which were among the top 10s in six of the eight categories and ranked 10th overall. The Atlanta Falcons came in at 23rd, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 26th.

How the Panthers graded

The Panthers finished 7-10 and narrowly missed a playoff berth last season after Coach Matt Ruhle was fired when the team started 1-5. He was replaced by interim Steve Wilks, and star Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco. But the Panthers rebounded to win most of their final 11 games.

Carolina Panthers Coach Frank Reich (left) and team owner David Tepper. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Owner Dave Tepper, who has been in charge since 2018 and who hired former Indianapolis Colts Coach Frank Reich to replace Wilks, was given good marks by most of the players, the NFLPA’s report said.

The Panthers were given an A+ and rated best in the league for their “Training Staff,” and they tied for second with an A in “Treatment of Families.”

They received B+ grades for the quality of the “Locker Room” (10th overall) and “Team Travel” (12th) – think first-class seats and no required roommates – and B for “Weight Room.”

The Panthers’ food service/nutrition concerns, which ranked them 22nd overall, were based on a 16th ranking of the quality of food provided (although it was a plus that the team furnished all three meals daily). About 6 in 10 players said that there wasn’t enough food in the cafeteria for everyone, the NFLPA’s report said.

But a lot of teams took hits for how they feed their players (or not). Arizona, Cincinnati and the Saints all received grades of F-, and the LA Chargers received an F. Detroit received a D-, and Jacksonville and Tampa Bay earned Ds, making three teams from NFC South among the lowest grades. The Chiefs ate up the league but earned a D+ for their food.

These are the grades and ranks for the survey of the Carolina Panthers. (NFLPA)

The NFLPA’s assessment said that 92% of players believe Tepper is willing to invest in upgrading facilities, which ranked 18th in the league. The players “hope to continue to see more money being put into the necessary upgrades.”

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte during a game between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

How it was done

The NFLPA sent questions with specific topics to every player on 2022 rosters, and 1,300 responded. Players were not asked questions about any employer other than 2022.

The questions required both quantitative and qualitative responses, such as rating a topic 1 through 5. Players also were asked questions designed to elicit their subjective insights about their “quality of life.”

The NFLPA factored all of that into overall ratings and assigned grades. Then the rankings came from comparing grades in each category.