It is no surprise that head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady want to instill an uptempo offensive game plan with a lot of moving parts. Brady has hinted that the Panthers will use multiple receiver sets during the season. There are six receivers currently that are pretty much locks to make the roster. D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Seth Roberts, Keith Kirkwood, and Pharoh Cooper are for sure making the squad. With the aforementioned multiple sets to be implemented, the Panthers may go over the usual six receivers. So, there is likely one spot out there for the taking.
The undrafted free-agent rookie out of Arkansas State does have major upside. During his senior season he tallied 93 receptions for 1,653 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Because of those numbers, Bayless ranked second in receiving yards in the FBS ahead of first round picks Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. Obviously the rookie is new to the pro experience but his college production could give him an edge. Coach Rhule calls Bayless a strong wide receiver with a big catch radius.
Bringing in Lewis is a no-brianer for the Panthers. It doesn’t hurt to add another offensive piece that is familiar with the schemes that offensive coordinator Joe Brady will implement. Brady was with Lewis and Teddy Bridgewater during the 2018 season with the Saints. In three seasons in New Orleans, Lewis had 20 receptions for 252 yards and two touchdowns. The wide-out could bring value to special teams. His career average for yards per punt return is 9.3., along with 22 yards per kick return.
Yes, Marken is the brother of Patriots running back Sony Michel. Marken was originally signed by the Vikings in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of UMass. However, his only pro experience has been in the CFL. Marken played in 24 games over two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders recording 132 reception with 1,215 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Philadelphia signed him in 2019, but he never saw game action. Marken may be on the outside looking in with no actual NFL game experience.
The 6 foot, 195 pound receiver has one year of NFL experience, but it is a very small sample size. Hyman drifted back and forth between the active roster and practice squad for Tampa Bay only appearing in 2 games. He must excel in training camp to gain the coaches attention. He is a long shot to land a spot.
Zylstra showed flashes last season during weeks 16 and 17 filling in for D.J. Moore. Against the Saints in the season finale he had six catches on eight target for 96 yards. I would say being familiar with the team would be an advantage, but that is not the case this year. However, you can not discount experience and at 6 foot 2 he has the size to make plays.
The Panthers may decide to keep two of the above, with one strictly serving on special teams. My bets are on Tommylee Lewis and Omar Bayless. Lewis’ familiarity is a huge plus and Bayless has been turning heads in training camp. Either way, Teddy Bridgewater will have no shortage of targets this season.