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24 Questions for ‘24: What Happened to Jeremy Chinn?

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By: D.A. Sweat

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

What is Jeremy Chinn’s future and what’s going on with the rest of the Panthers safety position?

As we look forward to the 2024 season, in the coming weeks we’ll ask 24 important questions that will shape the Panthers future.

What happened to Jeremy Chinn?

At the end of Jeremy Chinn’s 2020 rookie season it looked like the Panthers found one of the steals of the draft after their versatile second round pick recorded 117 tackles in his rookie campaign. Chinn finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting that year, sandwiched between future Pro Bowlers Chase Young and Patrick Queen.

The following season Chinn had another statistically impressive season with 107 tackles including seven tackles for loss.

Early in his career, Jeremy Chinn looked like a future Pro Bowler.

But while Chinn’s tackles numbers were impressive, his deficiencies in pass coverage were glaring at times and didn’t seem to be improving. Over his two first NFL seasons he gave up a 70% completion percentage when targeted (80 of 115) and quarterback ratings of 116 and 105 those seasons, per Football Reference. As a frame of reference, in 2023 safeties Xavier Woods and Vonn Bell gave up quarterback ratings of 65 and 79, respectively, when targeted.

Heading into Chinn’s third NFL season in 2022 he was becoming something of a capable but odd fit. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds he didn’t quite have the size to be an every down linebacker, but he also lacked the coverage skills to be an every down safety.

During the 2022 season the Panthers fired defensive coordinator Phil Snow along with head coach Matt Rhule. Al Holcombe took over as interim defensive coordinator for the remainder of the season and Chinn continued to play most of the teams defensive snaps with generally solid tackling but suspect pass coverage skills.

In 2023 defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero was hired and installed a new scheme that often left Chinn as the odd man out. After playing over 60 snaps per game on average in each of his first three NFL seasons, in 2023 Jeremy Chinn played just 24 snaps per game in Evero’s defense. The Panthers new defensive coordinator seemed to purposefully keep Chinn away from passing situations (Chinn was targeted just 14 times in 12 games) and he recorded only 30 tackles on the season.

When he was drafted, Jeremy Chinn’s versatility was a selling point. He could almost play in the box like a linebacker and almost play deep like a safety. Chinn’s skills clearly didn’t mesh with the scheme Evero Ejiro implemented this past season in Carolina.

So will Jeremy Chinn be back in 2024?

It’s hard to see a scenario where Chinn returns to the Panthers in 2024. The 2023 season was the last year of Chinn’s four-year rookie contract, so he’s now a free agent.

At the end of the season Chinn used the word “frustrating” to describe his first year in Evero’s scheme and he said it was a “surprise” to see his role diminish so drastically.

Chinn is still young and versatile and could be a better fit on another team. He could still have a very bright NFL future. As a free agent he’ll almost assuredly be signing elsewhere and join a team where his skills are a better fit with their scheme.

With Chinn likely gone, what other safeties might be leaving?

The good news for Panthers fans is both starting safeties are under contract in 2024.

In 2024 free safety Vonn Bell will be entering the second second of his 3-year, $22.5 million contract. Strong safety Xavier Woods will be playing the final season of his 3-year, $15 million deal signed in 2022.

Sam Franklin is also a free agent. In his four seasons with the Panthers the 27-year-old has proven to be a capable enough depth piece in the secondary and a mainstay on special teams. Franklin isn’t a needle mover, but it couldn’t hurt for the Panthers to re-sign him in 2024 to what would be a relatively small cap number.

Are there any other safeties to keep an eye on in 2024?

Yes, and it’s Jammie Robinson.

Robinson’s 2023 rookie season played out exactly as teams hope for a fifth-round pick. He appeared in all 17 games last year and was a mainstay on special teams.

He only played 64 defensive snaps during his rookie campaign with all but 10 of them coming in Weeks 8-10. During those three games he played 54 defensive snaps and somehow racked up 11 tackles, including six solo stops.

I’m not predicting Jammie will win a starting job in 2024 or anything like that, but he’s right where he should be development-wise exiting his rookie season. Nobody should expect a second-year fifth rounder to morph into an impact player, but he can hopefully contribute this season.

Originally posted on Cat Scratch Reader – All Posts