CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGHP) —The Carolina Panthers have been among the most active teams thus far in the offseason.
Here’s everything you need to know about what they have done and what else could possibly come.
Feb. 24-March 10: Panthers clear cap space
The Panthers first began their offseason with a series of releases and contract restructures to open up salary cap space.
The Panthers first restructured the contract of right guard Austin Corbett on Feb. 24 clearing $5.79 million in cap space.
On March 9, the team restructured the contracts of star right tackle Taylor Moton and safety Xavier Woods. Moton cleared $11.013 million of cap space while Woods cleared $1.59 million.
On March 10, the team released veteran linebacker Damien Wilson clearing $3.61 million in cap space in the process.
March 10: Panthers trade for the #1 pick in the draft
The Panthers then made a blockbuster trade for the number one overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
In the deal, the Panthers sent two first round picks, two second round picks and star wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears in exchange for the top selection in the draft.
While losing a player of Moore’s caliber is a tough pill to swallow, the Panthers now control the draft and will be able to select the franchise quarterback of their choice to lead the team into the future.
The Panthers were also among the teams present at a workout for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who is an option to help fill the void left by Moore.
March 11: Panthers extend Shaq Thompson
After months of speculation about his future with the team in light of his large cap hit, team captain and veteran linebacker Shaq Thompson agreed to a two-year extension to remain with the Panthers and help open up more cap flexibility.
Thompson is entering his ninth season with the franchise and is one of only two members of the team still remaining from the Super Bowl 50 season alongside long snapper JJ Jansen.
March 13: Panthers make waves on day one of free agency
The NFL’s legal tampering period began on March 13 at 12 p.m. EST. That means that teams were allowed to negotiate with players before finalizing deals once free agency officially begins on March 15 at 4 p.m. EST.
The Panthers first announced the signing of a local legend in defensive tackle Shy Tuttle to a 3-year $19.5 million deal.
Tuttle starred at North Davidson High School in Lexington before attending Tennessee and signing with New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2019.
Tuttle has established himself as one of the better run-defending defensive linemen in the NFL and should pair nicely with the Panthers’ young star defensive lineman Derrick Brown.
Next, the team secured the services of one of their leaders on the offensive line which took a great step forward last season in center Bradley Bozeman to a three-year $18 million deal.
Bozeman came to Carolina on a one-year deal last offseason from the Baltimore Ravens.
After missing the first six weeks of the season due to an injury, Bozeman helped the Panthers have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL from that point forward, even after the trade of star running back Christian McCaffrey.
Lastly, the Panthers signed safety Vonn Bell to a 3-year $22.5 million deal. Bell has starred for the Cincinnati Bengals for the last three seasons and helped lead the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI in 2022.
Bell recorded a career-high four interceptions in 2022 and will be a quality addition to the back end of the Panthers’ defense.
His signing will allow the Panthers to move star safety Jeremy Chinn closer to the line of scrimmage and allow him to play the role he starred in as a rookie.
March 14-15: Panthers add veteran QB, dynamic tight end
The Panthers continued to bolster their roster during the final days of the legal tampering period.
First, the Panthers signed veteran NFL quarterback Andy Dalton to a 2-year $10 million deal to join the team.
Dalton spent last year with the New Orleans Saints but is best known for his eight-year tenure as the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting quarterback.
During his time with the Bengals from 2011-2019 he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and led the team to the playoffs for five consecutive seasons.
Dalton experienced somewhat of a career resurgence with the Saints last season, he was the sixth-highest-graded quarterback in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Dalton will be a bridge and veteran mentor for the young quarterback the Panthers select with the number one pick.
On March 15, the Panthers signed yet another former Bengals player in tight end Hayden Hurst to a three-year deal.
Hurst was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft out of South Carolina by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 and also has NFC South experience from his time with the Atlanta Falcons.
Hurst is a tremendous athlete and dynamic receiving threat at the tight end position, which the Panthers have lacked since the retirement of Greg Olsen.
Carolina also released center Pat Elflein after re-signing Bozeman. Elflein’s release cleared $4.75 million in cap space.
Lastly, the Panthers are also exploring options to replace DJ Moore at wide receiver.
The team will host veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen for a visit on March 15. Thielen had spent his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings where made a pair of Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro selection.
Thielen is regarded as one of the better route runners and ball trackers at his position.
NFL free agency begins on March 15 at 4 p.m. EST
With free agency set to officially begin, look for the Panthers to continue to be active on the open market.
Running back, linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver are all positions need the team still is likely to look to address.
Running back D’Onta Foreman who was a key contributor to the Panthers’ turnaround following the McCaffrey trade is a candidate to re-sign with the team.
The Panthers also could look at Jamaal Williams who worked with new running backs coach Duce Staley as a member of the Detroit Lions. Willaims led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season with 17.
Miles Sanders is also another option at running back with a connection to Staley who coached during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. Sanders had a career-high 1,269 yards and helped lead the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII.
Among the names mentioned earlier, the Panthers could also have an interest in a wide receiver with connections to new head coach Frank Reich in Parris Campbell.