The Carolina Panthers faced significant challenges throughout the 2023 NFL season. Their campaign ended with a disappointing 2-15 record and missing the playoffs. As the franchise prepares for the 2024 offseason, critical decisions loom regarding roster improvements and competitiveness within the NFC South. Among the strategies to enhance the team's financial flexibility are evaluating and potentially releasing underperforming players. This analysis identifies three individuals within the Panthers' roster who may face cuts ahead of the upcoming offseason.

Panthers' 2023 Season

The Carolina Panthers' 2023 season marked their third under general manager Scott Fitterer, and the sole season under head coach Frank Reich. Starting with an unprecedented 0–6 record, the Panthers struggled throughout the season. After a Week 12 loss to the Tennessee Titans, which extended their losing streak, the Panthers made significant changes. They terminated Reich's tenure. This made him the third head coach fired in five years and the second in just two years for the franchise. Chris Tabor stepped in as the interim head coach. The Panthers' disappointing season continued as they failed to secure a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive year. That's after a Week 13 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Carolina Panthers head coach Dave Canales and star Bryce Young in front of Bank of America Stadium.

The team's acquisition of the number one overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft led to the selection of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Young joined the ranks of Kerry Collins in 1995 and Cam Newton in 2011 as the third quarterback drafted by the Panthers in the first round. Young, however, faced repeated struggles to meet expectations in 2023.

The Panthers' struggles culminated in Weeks 17 and 18. They suffered consecutive shutout losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buccaneers once more. This unfortunate streak made them the first team since the 2008 Cleveland Browns to endure back-to-back shutout losses. The Panthers concluded the season with a dismal 2–15 record. This tied the 2001 team for the most losses in a regular season.

Offseason Considerations

As the offseason approaches, the Panthers confront significant decisions regarding player contracts and team dynamics. Now, they have a new head coach in Dave Canales and GM in Dan Morgan.

One big thing to consider is that pass-rusher Brian Burns will enter free agency in March. This presents an opportunity for a tag-and-trade scenario that could benefit the team's future. Despite potential interest from franchises like the Los Angeles Rams, previous trade offers for Burns have been declined.

Wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., drafted in the second round in 2021, has yet to fulfill expectations. This prompts speculation about his future with the team. A trade may be viable if another franchise expresses interest in Marshall's potential. Additionally, the Panthers may explore trading starting center Bradley Bozeman to address deficiencies in the offensive line. Bozeman's departure could yield valuable assets as part of the team's rebuilding efforts. As the Panthers strategize for the offseason, these decisions will play a crucial role in shaping the team's trajectory for the upcoming season and beyond.

Here we will look at the three cut candidates on the Carolina Panthers' roster entering the 2024 NFL offseason.

Terrace Marshall Jr, WR

Even under the former administration, there were indications of a willingness to move on from Terrace Marshall Jr. Recall that he was a second-round pick in 2021. Ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, the Panthers allowed Marshall to explore trade options. This ultimately yielded no deals.

With only 767 receiving yards across three seasons and limited playtime in 2023, Marshall's potential departure doesn't come as a shock. Carolina may revisit trade discussions before the new league year begins. As such, it's unlikely the incoming coach will be eager to retain him. At 23, Marshall enters the final year of his rookie contract. He can give the Panthers a $1.4 million cap savings if released.

Ian Thomas, TE

The struggles witnessed throughout the 2023 season potentially signal the departure of familiar faces like tight end Ian Thomas. He has yet to establish himself as a reliable pass-catching option, and a calf injury restricted him to 12 games with five starts in 2023. During those appearances, the 27-year-old managed only five receptions for 56 yards and one first down.

Sure, releasing Thomas would incur a $3.8 million dead-cap charge. That said, it would also free up $2.3 million in cap space. That's a deal the Panthers need to make.

Bradley Bozeman, C

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Carolina Panthers center Bradley Bozeman (56) during pregame warm ups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

In 2023, center Bradley Bozeman proved to be quite impactful. He started all 17 games and participated in 100 percent of the offensive snaps. However, if the Panthers' head coach Dave Canales aims to revamp the offensive line, Bozeman could find himself falling by the wayside.

The offensive line posed challenges for the Panthers and rookie quarterback Bryce Young. Bozeman, while dependable, still accounted for five penalties and eight sacks allowed. Yes, restructuring remains a possibility. Having said that, releasing Bozeman with a post-June 1 designation would free up a whopping $6 million in cap space for the 2024 season.

Looking Ahead

Lastly, the Carolina Panthers face significant challenges as they prepare for the 2024 offseason. The team must make critical decisions regarding roster improvements and competitiveness within the NFC South. Among the strategies to enhance the team's financial flexibility are evaluating and potentially releasing underperforming players. We identified Terrace Marshall Jr, Ian Thomas, and Bradley Bozeman as three individuals within the Panthers' roster who may face cuts ahead of the upcoming offseason.

As the Panthers strategize for the offseason, these decisions will play a crucial role in shaping the team's trajectory for 2024. The Panthers must also pursue strategic player acquisitions via trades to bolster their roster and rekindle competitiveness. The acquisitions of guys like Tyler Lockett or even AJ Epenesa could elevate the team's capabilities at a reasonable cost. The Panthers must make these decisions wisely to revamp the team and achieve success in the upcoming season.