CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGHP) — The Carolina Panthers have had one of the more eventful offseasons in the NFL as they traded up to the top of the NFL Draft and had a very active free agency period.

Are those additions enough for the team to compete for an NFC South title in 2023?


Bryce Young (rookie)
Andy Dalton
Matt Corral
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 13: Bryce Young #9 of the Carolina Panthers works through a drill during practice at Bank of America Stadium on May 13, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The Panthers selected Bryce Young with the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft because they believe that he is a franchise-altering quarterback. Expect him to be the Week 1 starter.

Andy Dalton is a longtime veteran starting quarterback who will serve as a mentor to Young and can play at a starting-caliber level in the event of an injury.

Corral missed all of what would have been his rookie season last year with an injury and will look to establish himself as the Panthers’ long-term backup QB.

Running Back

Miles Sanders
Chubba Hubbard
Raheem Blackshear
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 12: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles hands the ball off to Miles Sanders #26 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

One of the Panthers’ biggest moves in free agency was signing Pro Bowl running back Miles Sanders to a 4-year, $25.4-million contract to be their long-term replacement for Christian McCaffrey who the team traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2022.

Sanders helped lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance last season as he posted 1,269 yards rushing and scored 11 touchdowns.

Hubbard and Blackshear return as supporting pieces from last season who helped mold the Panthers into one of the elite rushing teams in the NFL after the McCaffrey trade alongside D’Onta Foreman who signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason.

Wide Receiver

Terrace Marshall JrAdam ThielenDJ Chark
Jonathan Mingo (rookie)Laviska ShenaultDamiere Byrd

The Panthers have for the most part undergone a complete makeover at wide receiver after trading away DJ Moore as a part of the Bryce Young/No. 1 pick trade.

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 10: Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings attempts a catch against Kevon Seymour #27 of the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Panthers used free agency to address the position by signing veteran and former All-Pro Adam Thielen as well as former Pro Bowler DJ Chark.

Thielen is still a very productive receiver even as he ages, posting 36 total touchdowns over his last four seasons.

Chark is a physical specimen standing at 6 feet-3 inches with remarkable speed for a player that size. He appeared to be on a superstar trajectory after making the Pro Bowl in his sophomore season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 but has since struggled with injuries over the last 3 seasons. Still, he remains a potent deep threat as he averaged 16.7 yards per reception with the Detroit Lions in 2022.

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 22: Hayden Hurst #88 of the Cincinnati Bengals jumps over Jaquan Johnson #4 of the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

The Panthers also drafted Jonathan Mingo with their second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and hope to develop him into a long-term starter.

The team also will look for Terrace Marshall Jr to make a major step in this third season. After playing very little under Matt Rhule as a rookie, Marshall began to flourish in 2022 as a deep threat once he began to play more under interim head coach Steve Wilks after Rhule was dismissed.

Shenualt is also a player with a non-traditional skill set who will often play more like a running back on schemed-up plays rather than a traditional route running wideout.

Tight End

Hayden Hurst
Ian Thomas
Tommy Tremble
Stephen Sullivan

Tight end has been of the team’s biggest needs since Greg Olsen’s departure in 2019.

Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble both provide good things as blockers but were not dynamic receiving threats for the Panthers in recent seasons.

Hurst will provide Carolina with a reliable pass-catching target with athletic upside for Bryce Young to utilize.

Offensive Line

Left TackleLeft GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Ikem EkwonuBrady ChristensenBradley BozemanAustin Corbett (injured)Taylor Moton
Brady ChristensenJustin McCray/Cade MaysSam TecklenburgChandler Zavala (rookie)Cameron Erving
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 27: Ikem Ekwonu #79 and Brady Christensen #70 of the Carolina Panthers block Dre’Mont Jones #93 of the Denver Broncos during the first half of the game at Bank of America Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Panthers will look to bring back the same starting five on the offensive line as last year in 2023 when everyone is healthy.

The progression of the team’s offensive line into a productive unit last season was one of the biggest factors in the Panthers’ 6-6 finish and near playoff appearance in 2022.

Carolina took Ikem Ekwonu out of NC State in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He progressed well as the season went along and the team will look to him to continue to emerge as one of the elite young tackles in the NFL.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 23: Austin Corbett #63 and Taylor Moton #72 of the Carolina Panthers line up in the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on October 23, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Brady Christensen also had something of a breakout campaign at left guard in his second NFL season after an inconsistent rookie year under Matt Rhule where there was much confusion on what position he would play.

Bozeman took over as the Panthers starting center around the halfway of the season and helped spearhead their elite rushing attack after the McCaffrey trade.

Corbett was the team’s big free agent signing in 2022 and had a great season before tearing his ACL in the team’s final game against the Saints on Jan. 8, 2023. He will likely be out for the first half of the season as he recovers opening the door for Ekwonu’s former NC State teammate, 2023 fourth-round pick Chandler Zavala, to possibly be a starter.

Cade Mays and Justin McCray are also candidates to start at guard while Corbett recovers.

Moton will remain a mainstay as he has been for several years at right tackle.

Edge Rusher

Brian BrunsMarquis Haynes Sr
DJ Johnson (rookie)Amare Barno
Jordan ThomasYetur Gross-Matos
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 10: Marquis Haynes Sr. #98 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Brian Burns #53 of the Carolina Panthers after Haynes’ fourth down sack against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium on November 10, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Panthers could still look to add talent at this position with free agents such as Leonard Floyd and Jadaveon Clowney still available to be signed.

Brian Burns coming off a career-high in sacks is the obvious alpha among the team’s pass rushers.

Beyond that, expect a rotation of guys led by veteran Marquis Haynes and young players in 2023 third-round pick DJ Johnson and sophomore Amare Barno.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 27: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos throws under pressure from Amare Barno #90 of the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Barno is a physical freak who flashed the ability to get sacks in limited playing time as a rookie. Johnson is a strong and speedy power rusher who should make an impact in the edge rotation as well.

Still, consider an additional signing to be incredibly likely here that could push guys like Jordan Thomas and Yetur Gross-Matos off of the roster.

Versatile linebacker Frankie Luvu will also play a large role in the Panthers’ pass rush but will likely not play a majority of his snaps as a traditional edge rusher.

Interior Defensive Line

Right Defensive EndNose TackleLeft Defensive End
Derrick BrownShy TuttleDeShawn Williams
Brayvion RoyMarquan McCallHenry Anderson
John Penisini
Shy Tuttle, North Davidson High School defensive lineman.

The Panthers also are experiencing something of a makeover on the interior defensive line as they shift from a 4-3 to 3-4 style defense under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.

New additions include Triad-native Shy Tuttle and DeShawn Williams who the Panthers hope will help bolster their run defense and ease the burden on young star Derrick Brown who began to emerge as one of the premier defensive linemen in the NFL in 2022.

Inside Linebacker

Left Inside LinebackerRight Inside Linebacker
Shaq ThompsonFrankie Luvu
Kamu Grugier-HillBrandon Smith
Bumper Pool (rookie)Bumper Pool (rookie)
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 01: Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Frankie Luvu #49 of the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Panthers look to have a fearsome duo of linebackers in the elder statesmen in Shaq Thompson and the electric, versatile Frankie Luvu.

Thompson, one of only 2 players besides long snapper JJ Jansen still remaining from the Super Bowl 50 team, will play the more traditional linebacker role as he has through most of his career.

Luvu will move all across the field both as a standup linebacker and as a designated pass rusher.

TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 01: Julio Jones #6 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Shaq Thompson #7 of the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Brandon Smith is a great athlete who will look to put more together in his second season in Carolina. The amazingly named Bumper Pool will also look to make an impact as a rookie UDFA.

Jeremy Chinn, who is technically a safety, will also factor largely into the linebacker room as he will be on the field and in the box in most passing situations in nickel and dime packages.

Chinn is also likely to move into the box when Luvu moves closer to the line of scrimmage as a pass rusher.


Jaycee HornJeremy ChinnDonte Jackson
Keith Taylor JrEric RoweCJ Henderson
Stanley Thomas OliverJammie Robinson (rookie)Stanley Thomas Oliver
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 25: Jaycee Horn #8 of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after an interception against the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Cornerback is another position where the Panthers could look to add more depth, especially with Donte Jackson recovering from the torn Achilles he suffered in Nov. 2022.

Still, the Panthers return most of the same talent from last season with the major difference being Jeremy Chinn’s full-time-designated role as a nickel/slot corner and dime linebacker.

Look for Eric Rowe and to see significant playing time in the slot while Chinn is being moved around the field.

The Panthers will hope that the new defensive scheme will help Keith Taylor Jr and CJ Henderson have stronger performances than they did in 2022.


Free SafetyStrong Safety
Xavier WoodsVon Bell
Jammie RobinsonJeremy Chinn
Sam Franklin JrEric Rowe
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 29: Jeremy Chinn #21 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after recovering a fumble by Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings, and returning it for a touchdown during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Panthers made a major addition to the safety room by adding Von Bell, who has been one of the better safeties in the NFL during his last few seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bell will give the Panthers the freedom to move Chinn across various positions on defense.

Xavier Woods returns as a quality starter at free safety and Sam Franklin Jr is an ace on special teams.

2023 fifth-round pick Jammie Robinson could also figure into the safety and slot corner rotation.

Special Teams

Kicker PunterKick ReturnerPunt ReturnerLong Snapper
Eddy PineiroJohnny HekkerRaheem BlackshearRaheem BlackshearJJ Jansen
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 24: Johnny Hekker #10 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Eddy Pineiro #4 after a field goal in the fourth quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Status quo on special teams for the Panthers who return most of their starters as well as special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.