After an off-season of assessing young talent, the Panthers have officially cut down their roster. They trimmed the team down to 53 players on Tuesday, and cut three more on Wednesday. Teams often cut players and then sign them to the practice squad, but it’s a good indication of who teams feel are their most essential guys. After a disappointing preseason in terms of results, let’s look at the Panthers’ notable roster cuts.
After a rough showing in the preseason, the Panthers decided to cut quarterback Matt Corral. He made the initial 53-man roster, but was cut the following day. Some hoped that Corral could prove his worth in the preseason in order to lock up the backup quarterback position, but the results weren’t there.
He was a third-round pick just one year ago for Carolina, but a lot has changed since April of 2022. With a brand new coaching staff, the attachment of having drafted Corral as a prospect was gone. The Ole Miss product would have seen the field last year if not for a season-ending injury prior to week one. Instead, he’ll likely look elsewhere to try and find his home in the NFL.
Also sent away in the additional roster cuts was wide receiver Derek Wright. This comes as a bit of a shock after he performed well in the preseason. Wright seemed to have formed a strong connection with Bryce Young, and looked like a good find for Carolina.
Wright was signed by the Panthers last year after he went undrafted out of Utah State, but was waived on Aug. 30, 2022. He ended up on the practice squad, eventually granting him the opportunity he’s impressed with in this offseason. Unfortunately, exactly one year later he finds himself cut once again. We’ll have to see if he opts for another practice squad stint in hopes of continuing his time with the Panthers.
After two full seasons in Carolina, Shi Smith has been cut by the Panthers. The speedy slot receiver out of South Carolina was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. Two years down the line, he suffers the fate of most players drafted in the Matt Rhule era.
The most commonly talked about issue with Smith is dropping passes. Despite flashes of potential, Panthers fans have seen some rough moments born out of throws intended for Smith. He had seven catches in the preseason, including four in a productive game against the Giants, but doesn’t seem to have made enough of an impact to make the roster.
After a short-lived stint in Carolina that began in late July, the Panthers cut linebacker Deion Jones. Jones was a second-round pick for the Falcons in 2016 as a prospect out of LSU. He started for six years in Atlanta before being traded to the Browns last season, where he saw minimal action.
Some believed he would find his second wind in the NFL as a Panther, but he wasn’t overly impressive in the preseason. Jones failed to prove he was valuable enough to prioritize in a strong young defense, and was subsequently let go.
Along with Corral and Wright, Chandler Wooten was cut as the roster went from 53 to 50 on Wednesday. Wooten was undrafted out of Auburn in 2021, but made a name for himself amongst Panthers fans. He was signed with the roster spot freed up by sending Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, and appeared in nine games last season.
He totaled up 11 tackles over the preseason this year, even getting a sack against Detroit. It looked like his efforts had been rewarded, which is why the cut after the roster had already been trimmed to 53 was even more surprising. While disheartening at the moment, Wooten seems like a prime candidate to come back as a practice squad player.
For dedicated fans, one of the toughest parts of the off-season is watching lesser-known players get cut after fighting to try and claim one of 53 spots. It may not be the end for these athletes in Carolina, as they all make great candidates to fill practice squad spots. If they impress there, they could even find their way back on the main roster.
The three additional cuts may seem like overkill, but it suggests that the coaching staff has further plans. They’re dedicated to turning the corner in Carolina, even if that means hard decisions to free up space.
More from The Game Haus:
Featured image courtesy of the Carolina Panthers.
“From Our Haus to Yours“