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Should the Panthers Re-Sign Bradley Bozeman?

Center Bradley Bozeman played a big role on the 2022 Carolina Panthers, but should the team re-sign him to a bigger contract?
Bradley Bozeman Panthers

The Carolina Panthers have some big decisions to make on some of their impending free agents. Starting center Bradley Bozeman was one of the better signings of the 2022 offseason, but now that the former sixth-round pick is set to hit free agency again, should the Panthers pay up for a second consecutive offseason?

READ MORE: Should the Panthers Re-Sign Matthew Ioannidis?

Should the Panthers Re-Sign Free Agent Bradley Bozeman?

Why They Should

Bradley Bozeman easily justified his one-year, $2.8 million contract last season. After starting the season as a backup, Bozeman replaced an injured Pat Elflein in Week 7’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and never relinquished the role. For the rest of the season, Bozeman provided reliable, if unremarkable, work in the trenches and helped solidify an offensive line that looked a lot better at the end of 2022 than at the end of 2021.

Bradley Bozeman isn’t going to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame, but 2022 proved that he can be a reliable starter if given the opportunity. According to Pro Football Focus, Bozeman finished the season with a 63.1 grade, good for 19th-best among 38 eligible players. While he’s better in the run game, the fact of the matter is he’s a league-average starter, which is a bargain for only $2.8 million.

Of course, Bozeman is more than just a center. While he spent the 2022 season snapping the ball, he has starting experience at left guard from his time with the Baltimore Ravens. If the Panthers re-signed him, they could shift him over if injuries struck.

Why They Shouldn’t

As of this posting, the Carolina Panthers are currently $9.3 million over the 2023 salary cap. While they can easily make some moves to go under that threshold, including releasing Elflein, the fact remains that they need to be smart with their money. Getting Bradley Bozeman on a one-year, $2.8 million deal was fantastic for the Panthers, but he’ll probably cost a bit more in his second free-agent stint.

Spotrac currently projects Bozeman to receive a three-year, $36 million contract in free agency. Quite simply, there is no way to justify paying that type of money for a decent starter at a position of minimal importance. Bozeman is decent, but for that money, the Panthers are better off letting him walk and keeping Elflein.

Additionally, Bozeman is better as a run blocker than as a pass blocker, and that sort of player doesn’t necessarily fit with Carolina’s best interests. The Panthers will add a quarterback at some point in the coming months, ideally in the 2023 NFL Draft. The best way to ruin a young passer is by giving them a terrible offensive line and making them afraid of their own shadow. If the Panthers are going to break the bank on a center, they should invest in someone that is a better pass blocker.

Ultimately, the decision to re-sign Bozeman comes down to the price. If Spotrac’s projections are wrong and the Panthers can sign him to a similar deal as the one he played on in 2022, then he’s well worth the investment. If, however, the team has to shell out $12 million a year for his services, then they’re better off staying put with who they have.

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