We’re 90 days away from the Panthers 2023 season opener, so that means today’s countdown piece is devoted to No. 90 on the roster — defensive end Amare Barno.
The former Virginia Tech star was a Panthers sixth round pick (No. 189) in the 2022 draft. Overall he had a successful rookie season last year given where he was drafted. Remember, “success” for a sixth round rookie is to make the 53-man roster, play special teams, and get a few defensive reps. That’s exactly what Amare did last year.
He appeared in nine games last season with 51 defensive snaps and 73 on special teams. In limited action he had nine tackles but somehow produced two sacks. If we assume he’ll continue to register two sacks every 51 snaps, then math tells us if he plays 900 snaps in 2023 he’ll set an NFL record with 35 sacks. To quote Principal Seymour Skinner, “Prove me wrong, Amare. Prove me wrong.”
This upcoming season Barno will need to fight to get increased reps as an edge rusher in new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero’s 3-4 scheme. Carolina traded up in the draft this year to select Oregon’s DJ Johnson in the third round (No. 80 overall) and given his pedigree he’ll likely be given every opportunity to succeed. Amare will need to take a big step forward in Year 2 if he wants to see the field more than he did last year.
Even if Barno only reprises last season’s role as a special teams contributor who plays a few limited defensive snaps, that’s just fine. His cap hit over the next three years averages about $1 million per season - or 0.4 percent of the NFL’s $225 million salary cap - so any contributions the Panthers get from him are gravy.