The Carolina Panthers did themselves a favor with their 2022 NFL Draft class. From top to bottom, they somehow managed to come away from last weekend with value meetings — at multiple positions.
But, there are still a few holes left to be addressed ahead of an important campaign.
So, for the team that has the most salary cap space in the league at the moment, let’s pinpoint the 11 free agents they should be targeting right now.
The offense, especially third-round pick Matt Corral, could still use a veteran under center to guide them through the season. Newton is obviously not what he once was, but there is still enough there — especially behind a revamped line — to keep the Panthers competitive.
Foles wasn’t as well-received as Newton would be. Nonetheless, he’s still a decent enough presence to stick with Corral if Carolina passes on Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield with that cap space.
A broken thumb limited to Fuller in just two games this past season. But you can’t teach what he is and that is game-breaking speed – something that could be of particular interest to Carolina if they are part of Robbie Anderson.
Same deal, different receiver. And in addition to being a constant downfield threat, Hilton can bring that leadership to use this identity-deprived unit.
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will look to get more out of Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble in the passing game. But it doesn’t hurt to have a proven and productive pass catcher at the position to help them along.
With Haason Reddick off to the Philadelphia Eagles, the defense will have some top-end production to replace. Although Clowney may not hit that double-digit sack total, he is the most complete edge defender left on the market.
Just about the same goes for Hughes, who has not notched at least 10.0 sacks since 2014. He is, however, more of a solid option off the edge and can help develop younger talent on the defense.
Ingram is an outside option given his links to immediate contenders. Can the Panthers, however, woo the Hamlet, NC native and the University of South Carolina Gamecock back home?
The most glaring hole on this defense, by far, is the linebacker position — especially in the middle. Johnson, whose 2021 was sidetracked by a torn pectoral muscle, racked up 93 tackles in 2019 and 124 in 2020.
Being on the other side of 30, Hightower is probably more equipped to start over the middle than what Carolina has in Cory Littleton, Julian Stanford and Damien Wilson – who are currently facing assault allegations.
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