5 free agents the Panthers could target in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) Jalen Ramsey
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) Jalen Ramsey /
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Hunter Henry, Panthers free agency
(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) Hunter Henry /

Hunter Henry

The Los Angeles Chargers placed the franchise tag on Hunter Henry during free agency to prevent him from moving on to pastures new. This will earn the player more than $10 million following a superb career so far.

While that has come with a damaging injury in 2018, Henry seemed to recover well enough to become a contributor, and more is expected this time around following another preseason to further strengthen his body.

Henry still managed to grab 55 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. But it remains to be seen whether Tyrod Taylor or first-round pick Justin Herbert will get the same level of production with little time to develop chemistry during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Panthers’ free agency plans might see them in the market for a tight end if Ian Thomas does not live up to his enormous promise. Carolina’s decision-makers have given him a supreme vote of confidence after not selecting a long-term replacement for Greg Olsen during the NFL Draft. But it will be up to the player to deliver and if he cannot then the writing will be on the wall.

If Henry makes another step forward next season, then his services are going to be in high demand next spring. He is already one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league and his improved blocking last season has only heightened his overall influence.