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Panthers 2022 season opener countdown: 75 days to go

We’re counting down the days until the Panthers kick off the 2022 season.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We’re 75 days away from the Panthers 2022 season opener, so that means today’s countdown piece is devoted to No. 75 on the roster — offensive tackle Cameron Erving.

The Panthers signed Erving during the 2021 free agency period to a 2-year, $10 million deal with $8 million guaranteed. Carolina was gambling that the former first round pick could play at somewhere near league average for a left tackle last year, but that didn’t happen. Erving’s 2021 campaign was shortened to just nine games due to injury and his Pro Football Focus grade of 56.0 ranked 75th of 84 NFL tackles.

Erving clearly wasn’t the long-term answer protecting the quarterback’s blind side, so the Panthers selected Ikem Ekwonu at No. 6 overall in the 2022 draft. Ekwonu had a brilliant college career at N.C. State and is the Panthers’ presumed future solution at left tackle. Coach Matt Rhule recently indicated Ekwonu and second-year lineman Brady Christensen were in an open competition for the left tackle spot, but he didn’t mention Erving’s name in the discussion.

Cameron Erving has bounced around teams and positions during his seven-year career. He was drafted No. 19 overall in 2015 by the Cleveland Browns and spent his first two seasons at guard and center. In 2017 he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and played both guard and tackle during his three years there. In 2020 he signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys and appeared in six games at left tackle. He signed his two-year deal with the Panthers in 2021 and he’s now likely out of a starting gig after one season.

While Erving doesn’t appear to be starter material, he does provide experienced, versatile depth. While his contributions in 2022 likely won’t live up to his $6.5 million cap hit, he does provide backup depth to a number of positions along the offensive line. Erving could be the “next man up” to fill in at either tackle or guard position in a pinch, and that’s a role that will probably suit him well.