Michigan Panthers Cut Roster Down In UFL Training Camp | Brian Lewerke

Michigan Panthers Cut Roster Down In UFL Training Camp

On Sunday, the Michigan Panthers trimmed their roster down from 75 players to 58. March 10th marked a trying day for each UFL team in training camp, as plenty of potential starters were released.

Head Coach Mike Nolan had spoken to the media last week, mentioning how tough it would be to make some of these decisions. The team believes in every player they brought to camp, but only could retain so many with the limited spots available.

QB Brian Lewerke

With the quarterback room featuring E.J. Perry, Danny Etling, and Davis Cheek – Lewerke felt like the odd man out coming into camp. While Nolan spoke highly of his skill sets over the past couple of months, Brian’s resume doesn’t exactly stack up with Etling or Perry, and the youth of Cheek appears to have given him the edge to make it past the first round of cuts. Brian did not see any snaps for the Panthers last season.

WR Garett Maag

Garett Maag is an unfortunate loss for Michigan, as I thought he could be a potential replacement for Kaden Davis who is now in the NFL. Maag was an offseason addition, and should garner some interest from other teams.

WR Lance Lenoir Jr.

It’s crazy that Lance Lenoir did not make it past these cuts with Michigan. Lenoir led the Panthers in receiving yards and receptions in 2022, making an impact despite dealing with a quarterback carousel. After spending time in the XFL last year with the Guardians, Lance re-signed with Michigan as training camp began.

TE Nick Guggemos

With the amount of talent that Michigan has in their tight end room, Guggemos wasn’t necessarily expected to make it to the regular season. He’s had an intriguing story, recording only one reception in college – but did spend some time in the NFL.

OT Denzel Okafor

Denzel Okafor has been on and off of the Michigan Panthers roster for a while now, but most recently was added back in mid February. If Michigan is dealing with O-line issues, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Okafor get a call to return.

OT LaColby Tucker

LaColby Tucker is a massive human being, at 6’9”, 313 lbs. – and was with the Atlanta Falcons during training camp. Now, he’s cut for a second time in the last several months. Tucker feels like a diamond in the rough – the potential is there, he simply needs to develop it. LaColby had originally put himself on the map at the XFL combine back in July.

OT Phil Saleh

Phil Saleh was one of the first additions of the offseason for Michigan. With the amount of talent this team acquired through the dispersal draft process, Saleh is left on the outside looking in.

DT Damion Daniels

Damion Daniels was a late pickup for the Panthers, after he was released by the Houston Roughnecks. Truthfully, he likely did not have enough time to prove himself, with only a few days between his signing and release.

LB Isaac Darkangelo

Isaac Darkangelo came into Training Camp as an under-the-radar prospect, but one who deserves some attention. Isaac earned Northern Michigan’s Athlete of the Year honors in 2019, and had a tremendous senior season at Illinois. With Frank Ginda, Jerod Fernandez, DaShaun White, and Noah Dawkins all in this linebacker room, though, it’s impossible to keep everyone.

DB Keandre Evans

Evans was primarily a depth piece for the Panthers last year, totaling two tackles in six games played. Keandre is a talented DB, but with all of the additions for Michigan through the dispersal process, I’m not shocked that he didn’t make it past these cuts.

S Cory Rahman

Cory Rahman had his work cut out for him to try and make this roster. He was a playmaker for Michigan in 2022, but unfortunately missed most of the 2023 season due to an injury. It’s tough to know if this directly affected his return and release in camp, but with some new faces personnel wise for the Panthers, it’s not surprising.

S Jamal Perry

Jamal Perry was an offseason addition, one who brought quite a bit of NFL experience to the table. The Panthers have an outstanding secondary unit, but it’s interesting that Jamal didn’t make it past this round of cuts. With his resume, he should get another look somewhere.

S Shalom Luani

One of the hardest hitting safeties in the game is now back on the market. Shalom Luani was acquired by the Panthers through the dispersal draft, after spending the last two USFL seasons with the New Jersey Generals. If Luani isn’t on a roster by March 30th, something is wrong with this league. He belongs on a team.

S Warren Saba

Sadly, fan favorite Warren Saba has been let go as well. He missed the 2022 season with an injury, but burst onto the scene in 2023 as one of the top defenders on the team. Saba had 30 tackles and two interceptions in 2023, and almost sparked a comeback in week eight against the Breakers.

K Cole Murphy

Speaking of fan favorites, it’s hard to imagine this Michigan Panthers team without Cole Murphy in 2024. Murphy joined the team midway through the 2022 season, and immediately made an impact, knocking through a 60 yard field goal against the Breakers. Cole has been clutch throughout his USFL career, but now the starting position will shift to Jake Bates, who was added this past offseason.

Final Thoughts

It’s never easy to cut quality athletes, especially at this magnitude. General Manager Steve Kazor did an outstanding job of attracting NFL-caliber talent to the organization this past offseason. In a 16 team league, these 75 players would all be starters.

For Mike Nolan, the focus is getting this team to a Championship this year. In 2023, Michigan struggled with a 4-6 record, but did manage to make the postseason with a last second win against Philadelphia. These decisions were not easy, but should put the Panthers in a position to make a strong impression in the UFL.

In other news, RB Raymond Calais was placed on the suspended list. Going off of the verbiage the USFL used last year, the suspended list is for players who were unable to make it to camp, or had to leave camp at some point for personal reasons. Michigan will retain his player rights moving forward.

March 23rd will be another rough day in the UFL, as organizations will finalize their 50 man rosters for the season – cutting eight per team.

What are your thoughts on these cuts for the Michigan Panthers? Is there a player you think they should bring back? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!