2022 record: 7-10, tied-second NFC South
Playoff picture: Carolina’s five-year playoff drought is tied with Atlanta’s for the fourth-longest active streak in the NFL. The Panthers haven’t won a playoff game since the 2015 NFC Championship.
Biggest Week 1 question: Can Bryce Young do for the Panthers what their last No. 1 overall draft pick, Cam Newton, did in the 2010s? That is, win Offensive Rookie of the Year, revitalize a middling franchise and guide Carolina to a conference title in a few years’ time? No pressure, kid.
What’s new: Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, was the Panthers’ choice to start anew at quarterback after Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield failed to pan out. He’ll get to work under former NFL quarterback Frank Reich, who gets a second chance as a head coach after an unceremonious early-season firing from the Colts in 2022.
Elsewhere on offense, the Panthers made several mid-tier signings to give Young something to work with. His No. 1 running back will be Miles Sanders, who improved year by year in Philadelphia, and Adam Thielen, DJ Chark Jr. and tight end Hayden Hurst are trustworthy veterans for Young to target. One under-the-radar improvement is on staff: Ejiro Evero, seen as a hot commodity who interviewed for several head coaching vacancies in the winter, is Carolina’s new defensive coordinator.
They’re gone: The Panthers gave up their top wide receiver, D.J. Moore, to Chicago in the deal to move up to the No. 1 overall pick. Carolina will roll with Thielen, Chark and rookie Jonathan Mingo at the position. D’Onta Foreman won’t be back in the backfield.
On the money: There aren’t many big contracts on this roster; the Panthers have the sixth-most cap space in the NFL, per OverTheCap.com. Pro Bowl edge rusher Brian Burns, already the highest-paid player on the team, is in line for an extension but the sides are reportedly not close in their negotiations.
Get to know: Evero’s new 3-4 defense adds a wrinkle for Burns. He shifts from defensive end to outside linebacker. Burns said in July that his individual goals (read: big money in the form of a new deal) do matter, but the team’s objectives mean more, adding, “I feel like I’m a key piece to what we need to get done.”
Vegas says: BetMGM set Carolina’s win total at 7.5, and 92 percent of the handle is going with the under (-115).
–Field Level Media