4 players the Carolina Panthers will miss most in 2020
Luke Kuechly – (Former Carolina Panthers LB)
The impact Luke Kuechly made with the Carolina Panthers was nothing short of phenomenal. The sure-fire Hall of Famer rocked the organization this offseason by announcing his retirement aged 29 amid fears his long-term health could be compromised if he took the field any longer.
This was a hammer blow to the Panthers. Kuechly was still performing at an elite level. And the perennial All-Pro leaves a gaping hole at the second level following the decision.
While this call was probably the right one to make for Kuechly. It does not detract from what a blow it is for the franchise. The irony of it all is that if their legendary linebacker had stuck around one more season, then the Panthers could potentially have an exceptional front-seven on their hands in 2020.
The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year ended his glittering career with 1,092 combined tackles, 690 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks, 65 pass deflections, 18 interceptions, and seven forced fumbles over a sensational eight-year career. Kuechly earned first-team All-Pro honors on five occasions, made seven Pro Bowls and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.
Someone of Kuechly’s magnitude could never really be replaced in Carolina. But the onus will be on free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead to fill the gap on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. If he can prove to be a nice piece and have an impact on defense. Then it would not be a surprise to see the player given a longer-term commitment in 2021.