Hope springs eternal for the Carolina Panthers in 2023. Quarterback Bryce Young and head coach Frank Reich headline the monumental changes the Panthers underwent this offseason, but the club made plenty of other alterations to its roster and coaching staff. New additions to Carolina’s depth chart will force the club’s decision-makers to ponder every roster scenario as they pare down their squad.
Let’s run through the Panthers’ 90-man roster and determine how they’ll get down to 53 players before cutdown day.
Projecting the Carolina Panthers’ 2023 Roster and Depth Chart
- In: Bryce Young, Andy Dalton, Matt Corral
There’s not a ton of drama at the top of the Panthers’ quarterback depth chart. Young is in line to start after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, while Dalton is a perfect veteran backup two-year, $10 million deal with Carolina this offseason.
Corral missed his entire rookie season in 2022 after suffering a Lisfranc injury during the preseason. He’s a distant third behind Young and Dalton, but there’s no reason for the Panthers to part ways, given what they’ve already invested in Corral. Plus, the NFL’s new third quarterback rule will allow Corral to remain inactive on gamedays.
- In: Miles Sanders, Chuba Hubbard, Rasheem Blackshear
- Out: Spencer Brown, Tiyon Evans, Camerun Peoples
Sanders was a priority for the Panthers, who gave the former Eagles back the largest contract of any free agent RB. Hubbard is a lock to make Carolina’s roster, as well, thanks to his receiving ability and prowess on special teams.
Blackshear will likely return as the Panthers’ RB3, although he could face training competition, especially from Brown. But Blackshear was Carolina’s primary kick returner last year, which should give him a leg up over Brown, who’s appeared in just six games with the Panthers over the past two seasons.
- In: Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Terrace Marshall Jr., Jonathan Mingo, Laviska Shenault Jr., Shi Smith
- Out: Damiere Byrd, Gary Jennings, C.J. Saunders, Marquez Stevenson, Josh Vann, Derek Wright
Thielen and Chark (assuming he’s healthy) will be Carolina’s top two wide receivers, while Marshall and Mingo figure to battle for the WR3 job. Marshall drew praise during OTAs and minicamp and looks like the early favorite, especially given that Mingo could take some time to adjust to the NFL after being drafted in April.
Shenault, Smith, Byrd, and Stevenson will likely compete for the final two receiver spots on the Panthers’ depth chart. Shenault offers more versatility than the other options, while Smith was Carolina’s main kick returner in 2022. Still, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Panthers went with Byrd, thanks to his speed.
- In: Hayden Hurst, Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble, Giovanni Ricci
- Out: Stephen Sullivan
Hurst’s addition means Thomas will be pushed into a No. 2 role, which is probably a better fit for his skill set and ceiling. Carolina’s top three tight ends appear to be set in stone, while Ricci may have to earn his spot during training camp. Ricci offers fullback versatility and played the fourth-most special teams snaps of any Panther in 2022. He’s the kind of player new coaching staffs will typically hang on to.
- In: Ikem Ekwonu, Brady Christensen, Bradley Bozeman, Chandler Zavala, Taylor Moton, Cameron Erving, Justin McCray, Cade Mays
- Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: Austin Corbett
- Out: Deonte Brown, Larnel Coleman, J.D. DiRenzo, Nash Jensen, Michael Jordan, Ricky Lee, Sam Tecklenburg, BJ Wilson
Reich has admitted Corbett will miss regular-season action after tearing his ACL in the 2022 season finale. He’ll likely be placed on the PUP list, forcing him to miss at least six games and opening up a spot for another offensive lineman to make Carolina’s roster.
The Panthers will return four of five starters up front, while Zavala, McCray, and Mays will compete to take over at right guard while Corbett is sidelined. McCray projects as Carolina’s backup center (having played 137 snaps at the pivot for the Texans in 2021), but it won’t be a surprise if the Panthers cross-train Mays at center, too.
- In: Derrick Brown, Shy Tuttle, DeShawn Williams, Henry Anderson, Marquan McCall, Bravvion Roy
- Out: Antwuan Jackson, John Pensini, Jalen Redmond, Raequan Williams
The Panthers are transitioning to an odd front under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, so they’ll want plenty of beef up front. We couldn’t decide between McCall and Roy on the back end of the roster, so we’re leaning toward Carolina keeping both.
Tuttle is the Panthers’ new nose tackle after signing a three-year deal to leave the division-rival Saints. But Carolina’s best player up front is Brown, who posted the best season of his career in 2022 and rarely left the field, playing nearly 900 defensive snaps.
- In: Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos, Marquis Haynes Sr., DJ Johnson, Amaré Barno
- Out: Kobe Jones, Eku Leota, Jordan Thomas
Burns is the best player on Carolina’s defense, but the club’s pass-rushing plan behind him needs help. Gross-Matos has failed to develop over three NFL seasons, which should open the door for Haynes or Johnson to step up and garner more playing time opposite Burns.
The Panthers’ depth chart is crying out for help at edge rusher, and Joe Person of The Athletic suggested earlier this month that Carolina will likely add a free agent at the position. If the Panthers sign a veteran like Yannick Ngakoue or Justin Houston, Barno would likely be pushed off the roster.
- In: Frankie Luvu, Shaq Thompson, Brandon Smith, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Chandler Wooten
- Out: Ace Eley, Bumper Pool, Arron Mosby
Luvu looked like a down-ballot Defensive Player of the Year candidate during the early portion of last season. After reworking his contract to stick with the team, Thompson will remain Carolina’s longest-tenured player.
The Panthers invested a fourth-round pick in Smith a year ago and could view him as Thompson’s long-term replacement, so he’s a roster lock, too. Meanwhile, Gruiger-Hill and Wooten have solidified roles due to their action on special teams.
- In: Jaycee Horn, Donte Jackson, CJ Henderson, Keith Taylor Jr., Eric Rowe
- Out: Greg Mabin, Herb Miller, Mark Milton, Colby Richardson, Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, Rejzohn Wright
Horn injured his ankle in early June, and Jackson is recovering from Achilles surgery. Carolina’s CB depth chart could look a lot different if either of those players is still hurt by the time the regular season rolls around. But for now, the Panthers’ top four corners are already determined.
The fifth and final spot came down to Rowe and Thomas-Oliver, the latter of whom missed most of last year with a thigh injury. Thomas-Oliver is younger, but the Panthers could value Rowe’s veteran experience as they shift schemes. CB5 is one of the few spots on Carolina’s roster that appears to be truly up for grabs.
- In: Vonn Bell, Xavier Woods, Jeremy Chinn, Jammie Robinson, Sam Franklin Jr.
- Out: Myles Dorn, Josh Thomas
Bell and Woods complement each other perfectly as the Panthers’ starting safeties. At the same time, Carolina also added a future starting option by selecting Robinson in the third round of this year’s draft.
Chinn is the Panthers’ ace in the hole. He can play in the back end, as a big nickel, or at linebacker, which should appeal to Evero as he devises multiple looks for Carolina.
- In: Eddy Pineiro (K), Johnny Hekker (P), JJ Jansen (LS)
The Panthers extended Pineiro this offseason and traded former kicker Zane Gonzalez to the Broncos. None of Carolina’s specialists will face any competition for their jobs this summer.