2022 Panthers Preview: Expectations For The Re-Made Roster

September 5, 2022

What can the Carolina Panthers realistically expect from the team as head coach Matt Rhule heads into a pivotal third season? After registering back-to-back five-win seasons, the pressure is on the former Baylor man to bring some victories to the Queen City.

With less than ten days to go until the NFL regular season kicks off, there’s quiet confidence amongst some sections of the Panthers fan base that this team could make some noise in the NFC in 2022. The Panthers have gone about their offseason business very much in the background. We’ve seen high-profile trades around the league for the likes of Tyreek Hill, Russell Wilson, and of Deshaun Watson. However, despite Carolina making no so-called splash off-season moves this is most definitely an improved roster from 2021. 

What Does The Panthers Offense Look Like For 2022?

On the offensive side of the ball, the free agent acquisitions of Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett coupled with the drafting of some experts’ top-rated player Ikem Eckwonu should revitalize an offensive line that ranked as one of the worst in the association a season ago. The Panthers also brought in former Titans running back, D’Onta Foreman, who filled the shoes of Derrick Henry admirably rushing for 566 yards in nine games at the back end of the 2021 season. Coupled with a healthy Christian McCaffrey, Foreman could prove a vital asset in goal-line scenarios with his powerful running. 

Despite these improvements, Carolina still had huge questions about the Quarterback position. After giving up three draft picks a year ago for Sam Darnold, he — to no one’s surprise — turned out to again be Sam Darnold and struggled as he had done during his time in New York. As a result, the Panthers moved up in the draft to select Ole Miss signal-caller Matt Corral.

However, a lisfranc injury suffered in the preseason meant a premature end to Corral’s season. The Panthers moved to bring in former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. The former first overall pick left the Cleveland Browns in acrimonious circumstances following the Browns’ decision to move off Mayfield and pursue Deshaun Watson. 

With A Re-Made Panthers Offense, Will The Defense Stand Out?

With the Panthers hopefully improving on the offensive side of the ball, they will look for the defensive unit to make the jump from good to elite in 2021. Star edge rusher Brian Burns is back following a pro bowl appearance a season ago. The former Florida State star looks to break the ten-sack barrier for the first time. However, opposite Burns, we’ll see a change in 2022.

Haason Reddick departed Carolina after earning a big money deal in Philadelphia following 11 sacks in 2021. This means the Panthers will adopt a sack-by-committee approach with new starter Frankie Luvu along with the likes of Marquis Haynes, Yetur Gross-Matos, and 2022 sixth-round pick Amare Barno.

The Panthers will almost seem to have a new CB1 this season despite Jaycee Horn entering his second season in the league. The Panthers’ 2021 first-round pick played just two and a half games a season ago before a broken foot on the road in Houston curtailed a promising rookie season. Horn, along with returning veteran Donte Jackson and former first-round pick C.J. Henderson, look to form one of the top trio of starting corners in the league. 

The Panthers also added some savvy veteran players on the defensive side of the ball, former Washington Commander Matt Ioannidis — who had 8.5 sacks in 2019 — was brought in to start alongside Derrick Brown, and in the secondary, the Panthers also added safety Xavier Woods who played every single snap for Minnesota in 2021. Keep an eye out for rookie Brandon Smith. The former five-star recruit, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Penn State, has already flashed in the preseason with defensive coordinator Phil Snow touting him as a future starter. 

It’s noted that amongst many the NFC is considered much weaker than the AFC with the level of especially Quarterback talent lower in the NFC. With new signing Baker Mayfield showing at his best he can be a top ten Quarterback and could easily lead the Panthers to nine or ten wins. We’ve seen in his college days; that Mayfield playing with a chip on his shoulder is a force to be reckoned with.

With both Mayfield and head coach Matt Rhule entering a pivotal 2022 season with both players potentially fighting for their futures in the league, it’s possible we’ll see a vastly improved Panthers team in 2022 who if things go their way could make a wildcard spot, if not one would imagine in a year the Panthers will be entering the 2023 season with a new head coach and probably a new rookie first-round quarterback.