Carolina Panthers Free Agency Predictions 2024: Panthers Extend Brian Burns, Add Veteran WR for Bryce Young

Carolina's decision on Brian Burns and a new pass catcher for Bryce Young take center stage in PFN's Panthers free agent predictions.

The Carolina Panthers are trying to turn over (another) new leaf in 2024. First-year head coach Dave Canales has arrived to help resurrect quarterback Bryce Young’s career, while first-time general manager Dan Morgan was promoted to run the club’s front office operation.

Ranked near the middle of the NFL with $35 million in cap space, the Panthers can start remaking their roster this offseason. How will Carolina take on free agency? Here are three predictions for how the Panthers could approach the coming weeks.

Carolina Panthers Free Agency Predictions

Work Out an Extension With Brian Burns

The Panthers reportedly turned down a massive trade package from the Los Angeles Rams in 2021 for Brian Burns that would have included at least two first-round picks. They rebuffed more inquiries on their star pass rusher at last year’s trade deadline.

Carolina keeps holding onto Burns rather than moving him to a new team, so it’s time to extend the 25-year-old edge defender.

Burns has enough leverage to become one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league. While he won’t surpass Nick Bosa’s $34 million per year contract, Burns could collect somewhere between $24 million and $28 million on a long-term deal.

The former first-round pick has earned that type of pact with his incredibly consistent performance. Burns has posted at least 7.5 sacks and 16 QB hits each season since entering the NFL in 2019. He ranked 11th among edge rushers with a 21% pass-rush win rate in 2023.

Who else would the Panthers even spend cap space on if not Burns? Defensive tackle Derrick Brown is in line for an extension, but Carolina has no other building blocks due for new deals in the coming years.

Add Marquise Brown to Bryce Young’s WR Corps

Although the Panthers reportedly wanted to trade for a wide receiver before last year’s deadline, they never pulled off a deal to improve Young’s pass-catching options.

The free agent options will be slim this offseason. The Cincinnati Bengals have already franchised Tee Higgins. Barring an extension, the Indianapolis Colts will do the same with Michael Pittman Jr.

Carolina needs more talent, but it also needs to get younger after fielding the NFL’s eighth-oldest offense by snap-weighted age in 2023. As such, 30-year-old Mike Evans probably won’t be on the Panthers’ radar, even if he wants to follow Canales, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ former offensive coordinator, to Carolina.

However, Marquise Brown could help the Panthers achieve both goals simultaneously. Although he’s entering his sixth pro campaign, Brown is still just 26 years old.

A middling 2022-23 line of 59-642-4 isn’t the best platform for Brown’s free agency, but NFL teams are constantly looking for explosive plays in the passing game. The former first-rounder offers speed on the perimeter and could look reborn if Young and the rest of Carolina’s aerial attack figure things out in 2024.

Sign at Least One CB

The Panthers’ cornerback depth chart could look quite a bit different heading into next season.

Donte Jackson led Carolina CBs with 902 defensive snaps but could be a candidate for release after allowing a career-high 107.7 passer rating as the nearest defender in coverage. The Panthers could clear nearly $6 million in cap space and save over $8 million in cash by cutting the 29-year-old Jackson.

Jaycee Horn will return in 2024, but it’s difficult to count on the former first-round pick. Injuries have consistently sapped his availability. Horn has appeared in just 22 of a possible 51 games over three NFL seasons.

Meanwhile, C.J. Henderson, Troy Hill, and Shaquil Griffin are headed for the open market. Safety/linebacker Jeremy Chinn, who often lines up in the slot, is also a pending free agent.

If Jaylon Johnson or L’Jarius Sneed unexpectedly hits free agency, the Panthers should go all-out to land them. But the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs have all but admitted they will franchise Johnson and Sneed, respectively.

KEEP READING: Panthers 2024 Free Agents

Most of the other top free agent cornerbacks are on the older side. Carolina might be better off taking shots on upside, so youthful options with pedigree like Jeff Okudah, Kristian Fulton, and Sean Murphy-Bunting could be on the Panthers’ radar.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

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