Panthers offseason primer: Rebuilding around Bryce Young

Carolina Panthers

2023 record: 2-15

Projected salary cap space: $30.2 million

Offseason storylines: New coach. No first-round pick. Worst record in the NFL. Where do the Panthers go from here? There’s conceivably only one direction for Carolina under first-time head coach Dave Canales. To stoke greatness the franchise believes is within 2023 No. 1 pick Bryce Young, the Panthers are trying to make his life easier with explosive playmakers and a polished offensive line. How many of those boxes they can check this spring isn’t clear, but new GM Dan Morgan vows to be bold.

Team Needs: WR, DE, LB, CB, OL

Hats off to Adam Thielen for his 103-catch season in his Carolina debut. The Panthers had only 13 TD passes in 17 games and averaged 13.9 points per game. It’ll be a steep climb from here to becoming a potent offense. A lead receiver with big-play flair and improved offensive line play are necessary. Then there’s the matter of fixing the defense. Problem areas are plentiful. The Panthers allowed 25 rushing touchdowns and totaled 27 sacks.

Top free agent: OLB/DE Brian Burns — When talks crumbled around Burns’ request for $30 million per season last summer, the notion the two sides could ever find middle ground on a contract appeared to be a pipedream. Burns still wants the bag. But he might be more realistic about the total value after notching 8.0 sacks and fighting injuries in 2023. Burns and S Jeremy Chinn, another priority free agent, aren’t yet 26 years old.

Unrestricted free agents (as of March 11):

DE Henry Anderson

OLB Brian Burns

WR DJ Chark Jr.

S/LB Jeremy Chinn

S Sam Franklin Jr.

CB Shaquill Griffin

OLB Yetur Gross-Matos

ILB Kamu Grugler-Hill

OLB Marquis Haynes Sr.

CB C.J. Henderson

CB Troy Hill

RG Gabe Jackson

LS JJ Jansen

LB Deion Jones

ILB Frankie Luvu

G/C Justin McCray

K Eddy Pineiro

T David Sharpe

WR Laviska Shenault Jr.

LDE DeShawn Williams

DE Chris Wormley