Panthers GM says Bryce Young doesn't have timeline to become starting QB; Andy Dalton remains starter

Bryce Young isn't the Carolina Panthers' starting quarterback after the team selected him first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the team's general manager doesn't appear to have a date in mind for when that will change.

Speaking with Pro Football Talk, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said there is no timeline for Young to start and veteran Andy Dalton remains the official starter right now:

“We’re going to rely on our coaches — Jim Caldwell, Frank Reich, Thomas Brown — to decide when it’s right,” Fitterer said. “We don’t have a timeline. We’re not saying, ‘Hey, this guy’s gonna start the first game or we’re not going to play him at all this year.’ When the time is right or we felt like he’s got enough of a mastery of the offense where he can go out and operate this and be successful, that’s when he’ll be out there.

“We went out and signed Andy Dalton for a reason. He played as a rookie. He’s got a lot of experience. He understands his role and he can play good football. If Andy’s the guy to start the season, and he’s the starter right now heading into the season, then he’ll be the guy. When Bryce is ready or Matt Corral is ready whoever it may be, that’ll be the time they go in. We say it’s open competition, but Frank did say, ‘Hey, Andy’s, he’s our guy right now.' He’ll walk into the season as the starter and then, as you know, the young guys compete underneath him, then they’ll go in when they’re ready.”

Fitterer's comments track with what head coach Frank Reich said soon after the draft, with Young starting his Panthers career in the No. 2 role:

“He’ll have to earn it. Obviously, that’s the way it should be. We’ll know when the right time is,” Reich said. “He’s got enough going on right now. I just want him to come in and learn the offense and not have to worry about stepping into the limelight. Just come in, learn the offense, get to know these guys. When we step out onto the field the first time, he’ll be in that No. 2 spot.”

The Panthers signed Dalton to a two-year, $10 million deal in free agency ahead of the draft with pretty much this exact role in mind, as the team had already acquired the first pick and was considered a lock to draft its future franchise quarterback.

That quarterback turned out to be Young, an undersized prospect who showed high upside and football IQ at Alabama, where he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.

Carolina Panthers number one draft pick quarterback Bryce Young poses with his jersey during a news conference at their NFL football stadium on Friday, April 28, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Bryce Young becoming the Panthers' starter is a question of "when," not "if." (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

It's a familiar situation for Dalton, who was named QB1 with the Chicago Bears before they drafted Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick in 2021 and started two games before injuring his knee, which opened the door for Fields to start.

After leaving the Bears, Dalton spent last season with the New Orleans Saints, where he posted 2,871 passing yards, a 66.7% completion rate, 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 14 starts. The former Cincinnati Bengals starter can still hold his own as a passer, but even he should be well aware the Panthers will want to see him surpassed at some point in the next several months.