Kuechly’s legacy with Panthers enhanced by All-Decade selection
How will the Panthers fare without Kuechly?
Losing someone with the heart and desire that Luke Kuechly possesses is going to leave the Carolina Panthers with some enormously big shoes to fill.
They have signed Tahir Whitehead in free agency. But it remains to be seen whether or not the player can reach anything like the level Kuechly gave the Panthers on a weekly basis.
The new signing played well for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019, recording 108 combined tackles (79 solo). But he does not offer much from a coverage perspective and this is an area of his game he will need to work hard on in the pass-happy NFC South.
Shaq Thompson showed signs of life in 2019 alongside Kuechly. How he handles the extra responsibility without the perennial All-Pro will go a long way to determining if he can be considered as a long-term replacement.
This was a team that went 5-11 last season even with Kuechly in the line-up. Losing their defensive lynchpin does not inspire great confidence that a bounce-back campaign is on the cards.
The Panthers also have the option of drafting a playmaking linebacker with the No.7 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft later this month. Someone like former Clemson standout Isaiah Simmons is expected to warrant consideration given his versatility and game-changing ability.
One player cannot be tasked with filling the void left by Kuechly. It is going to be a collective effort and even that might not be enough to replicate his production.