Panthers: 3 potential replacements for Kawann Short in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Kawann Short
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Kawann Short /
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Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Kawann Short /

Which ways could the Carolina Panthers go if they decide to part ways with veteran defensive tackle Kawann Short next spring?

The Carolina Panthers have a real dilemma on their hands surrounding Kawann Short. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle is set to return from a torn rotator cuff injury that ended his 2019 campaign early. But it remains unclear as to just what his long-term future is with the organization.

Short is comfortably the team’s highest earned on defense. He is set to make $12.5 million in base salary and count $19.45 million against the Panthers’ salary cap in 2020.

Things get even more complicated regarding Short in 2021, which is the final year of his five-year, $80.5 million deal. The player will count a whopping $20.83 million against Carolina’s cap. And it remains to be seen whether the team is willing to give this sort of financial outlay to him.

It does appear highly unlikely given the direction that the organization is going in at the present time. The Panthers ridded themselves of overpaid veterans during an unprecedented offseason of activity. And even if Short comes back to the player of old after a long lay-off, the cap saving of $9 million to part ways with the interior lineman might be a tempting proposition if he fails to live up to expectations.

The Panthers did draft Derrick Brown No. 7 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. And the former Auburn standout has the potential to be their anchor for the next decade. However, the organization will need to examine what good alternatives are out there if they eventually decide to release Short. And they could have around $90 million in cap space to work with if they make the necessary cuts.

Here are three players that Carolina might consider bringing in to replace Short in 2021.