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Who Could Be on Their Last Chance with Panthers?

A critical season coming up for these Panthers.

We are just weeks away from the start of training camp in Spartanburg where 90 players will be fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster. Each year, there are a few surprise cuts and some who will make the roster but may be on their last chance with the team. 

In the near future, we'll take a look at cut candidates, some of which may be on the list that we're about to dive into. For today, we're going to look at a few names that feel like they're on the last chance with the organization, meaning if they don't produce in 2022, the future for them in a Panthers uniform looks bleak.

QB Sam Darnold

This might not only be Darnold's last chance with the Panthers but his last chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he doesn't take a step forward this season, he will be relegated to backup duties for the remainder of his career. 

QB PJ Walker

The Panthers keep throwing quarterbacks into the mix and rumors of adding to the room haven't stopped. If Carolina makes a trade to acquire Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo, that will immediately spell the end of Walker's time in the Queen City. If not, he'll hang on and battle for the backup spot this season. Considering rookie Matt Corral has a big learning curve to navigate through, I wouldn't be surprised to see Walker back up Darnold to start the year. 

OL Pat Elflein

Elflein will be vying for a starting spot somewhere on the offensive line heading into the 2022 season. He appears to be more comfortable at center but also started some games at left guard for the Panthers last year. If the Panthers want their best five out there, Elflein will be left out for Brady Christensen (left guard) and Bradley Bozeman (center). If he doesn't lock up a starting spot this year, I doubt he will be back in 2023. He can start elsewhere rather than serve as a backup in Carolina. 

OL Cameron Erving

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Let's face it, this is Erving's last go around in Carolina. He had a miserable 2021 campaign and didn't look all that sharp in the team's offseason workouts. Unless he cleans up some things and becomes a solid swing tackle, this will be the final year of Cam Erving in the black and blue.

DE Marquis Haynes Sr.

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow and head coach Matt Rhule each believe that Haynes can step in and produce off the edge in an expanded role in 2022. However, if for whatever reasons he struggles to generate much of a pass rush on a consistent basis, the 2022 season will likely be his last in Carolina. Other options such as Yetur Gross-Matos and Amare Barno will be given opportunities as well.

CB Stanley Thomas-Oliver III

Thomas-Oliver has turned into a solid special teams player but with how much the Panthers have invested into the cornerback room, it feels like a crucial year for the Florida International alum. 2022 7th round pick, Kalon Barnes, offers the same tools and then some with his elite speed. Barnes could beat out Thomas-Oliver for a spot on the 53-man roster.

S Juston Burris

Carolina has a total of seven guys at safety, most of which can both play free and strong safety. Burris has dealt with some injuries since arriving in Carolina and given that he is entering his age 29 season, there's not much of a future for him long-term with the franchise. The front office likes the younger talent such as Myles Hartsfield, Sam Franklin Jr., Sean Chandler, and Kenny Robinson. If one of those young guys takes a step forward in 2022, you can expect the Panthers to let Burris walk in free agency next offseason.

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