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Carolina Panthers 2022 free agency outlook

The Panthers head into 2022 free agency coming off an 5-12 season. We break down their free agents, cap space, and more.

NFC cornerback Stephon Gilmore of the Carolina Panthers (9) looks on against the AFC during the third quarter during the Pro Bowl football game at Allegiant Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers took a step backwards this season, finishing in last place in the NFC South with a record of 5-12. The Panthers started the season undefeated at 3-0, but ended up going 2-12 the rest of the way.

Carolina’s issues stemmed on the offensive side of the ball as they played three different quarterback throughout the season and did not have star running back Christian McCaffrey due to injury. Heading into the offseason, the team must decide if they are going to roll with Sam Darnold for another season or go in a different direction. They also have to make some tough decisions on defense as they have a couple of key free agents.

Last season’s salary cap number dropped to $182.5 million as the league dealt with the pandemic, but the 2022 cap is expected to rebound back up to $208 million, according to Over The Cap. That increase should loosen a few team pocketbooks this offseason.

Franchise/Transition Tag possibilities

The Panthers don’t have a ton of a lot notable unrestricted free agents to worry about this offseason. But the free agents that they might want to re-sign will likely command a large contract on the open market.

Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore is one of those free agents that will get a noticeable contract. The 31-year-old cornerback’s calculated market value is a two-year, $28M deal, per Spotrac. If the Panthers were to re-sign him to that deal, he would take up most of their cap space. They could also choose to ink Gilmore to a franchise tag, but that would cost them a projected $17.3 million. At that price, Carolina might be better off letting Gilmore walk and using that money or tag on young cornerback Donte Jackson.

Salary cap

Estimated 2022 cap space: ($17.1 million)

Notable unrestricted free agents

Carolina Panthers 2022 UFAs

Player Pos. 2021 Team Snaps Age 2022 Team
Player Pos. 2021 Team Snaps Age 2022 Team
Haason Reddick EDGE Panthers 78.50% 28
Jermaine Carter, Jr. LB Panthers 78.40% 27
Donte Jackson CB Panthers 66.00% 27
Ian Thomas TE Panthers 61.20% 26
DaQuan Jones IDL Panthers 58.90% 31
John Miller RG Panthers 57.10% 29
Sean Chandler S Panthers 49.50% 26
Matt Paradis C Panthers 49.40% 33
Juston Burris S Panthers 39.00% 29
Trenton Scott RT Panthers 29.20% 28
Brandon Zylstra WR Panthers 29.00% 29
Stephon Gilmore CB Panthers 28.00% 32
Ameer Abdullah RB Panthers 27.40% 29
Frankie Luvu EDGE Panthers 22.90% 26
Rashaan Melvin CB Panthers 22.80% 33
Zane Gonzalez K Panthers 22.30% 27
Cam Newton QB Panthers 21.90% 33
Marquis Haynes EDGE Panthers 20.50% 29
Lachlan Edwards P Panthers 15.50% 30
Julian Stanford LB Panthers 7.00% 32
Alex Erickson WR Panthers 5.80% 30