The last four years have been a tough period for Carolina Panthers fans, as the NFL franchise has finished with a losing record in each of those seasons, including in 2021 when they ended the campaign in fourth place in the NFC South.
There have been a lot of changes during the off-season at the franchise, many of which should give Panthers fans some optimism. Here is a look at why 2022 may be a good year.
Carolina traded for Baker Mayfield earlier this year, doing with a deal with Cleveland which sees the Browns receive a conditional 2024 NFL Draft pick. Their new franchise QB could be the man who brings success back to the franchise.
The Panthers are now +850 in the sports betting to win the NFC South next season with the former first overall pick on their roster. They look to have a much better chance of a division title with the former Browns man.
Betting experts are likely to see this acquisition as a positive deal for Carolina as Mayfield has shown he can handle the challenges of the NFL. That was clear in 2020 as the Browns finished with an 11-5 record, before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the play-offs.
The first job Mayfield needs to do in Carolina is to earn the starting position ahead of Sam Darnold. A change in scenery should help the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. He is also likely to be motivated to prove he can be one of the leading QBs in the league.
Austin Corbett Brings Quality at Guard
After winning the Super Bowl last season with the LA Rams, guard Austin Corbett has signed a three-year $26.25 million deal with Carolina. He should offer good protection for Mayfield or Darnold on the offensive line.
The Guard played with Mayfield in Cleveland between 2018 and 2019, so those two players will have a good understanding of each other. The second-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft deserves this contract and the Rams’ loss is the Panthers’ gain.
Carolina wasted no time in securing Corbett. They signed him up on the opening day of free agency. They have said they saw him as a priority in their roster rebuilding, so they will be delighted to tie him down to a three-year contract.
Matt Rhule Knows the NFL Now
This season will be head coach Matt Rhule’s third year in the NFL. The former Temple coach will have learnt a lot during the last couple of years, which should prepare him well for the latest campaign.
There will be some pressure on Rhule’s shoulders to improve, but with the acquisitions Carolina have made in the off-season, they are well prepared to do better than in 2020 and 2021.
Rhule’s style of offense is now very much engrained in this Panthers team. Hopefully the results will now start to go his team’s way and he can show why he was one of the brightest coaches in college football.
Carolina begin the opening game of the 2022 NFL season against Cleveland Browns on September 11. Mayfield could be set to take on his former team at the Bank of America Stadium.