The Panthers signed Bradley Bozeman to a modest one-year, $2.8MM contract last offseason, which was something of a surprise given that the Alabama product was coming off a productive season as the Ravens’ full-time starter at center and seemed primed for a more robust market. After an uncertain start to his Carolina tenure, however, both player and team are interested in continuing their relationship, as David Newton of ESPN.com tweets.
Bozeman and Pat Elflein battled for the Panthers’ starting center gig last summer, and the ankle injury that Bozeman suffered in August gave Elflein a leg up in that competition. Indeed, Elflein started the first six games of the 2022 season at the pivot while Bozeman saw only a handful of special teams snap in each of those contests. Elflein was then forced to undergo season-ending hip surgery, which opened the door for Bozeman to take over.
Bozeman played in every offensive snap for the Panthers over the final 11 games of the campaign, and his mauling style of play certainly helped a rushing attack that finished 10th in the league in yards per game despite losing Christian McCaffrey in advance of the trade deadline. Bozeman’s advanced metrics were unspectacular, though, as Pro Football Focus considered him the 20th-best center in the game out of 38 qualified players, and his 63.1 overall grade represented a step back after a strong 73.6 mark in his final season in Baltimore.
Still, the 28-year-old blocker has proven that he is at least a competent starter, with the potential to be more. He also has the ability to play guard at a passable level, which is not insignificant in light of Brady Christensen‘s so-so season at LG.
Elflein — who also has guard experience but who has never been a world-beater — could become a cap casualty (though that is simply speculation at this point). He is under club control through 2023, but the Panthers would realize $4.2MM of cap savings if they were to release him this offseason, money that could certainly go towards a second Bozeman contract.