Carolina Panthers: 4 free agents for wish list on defense in 2021

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Bud Dupree
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Bud Dupree /
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Zach Cunningham, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Zach Cunningham /

LB. HOUSTON TEXANS. player. 10. Pick Analysis. ZACHCUNNINGHAM. 4. Scouting Report

Carolina Panthers Target No. 4: Zach Cunningham (LB)

The Carolina Panthers need to find a long-term replacement for Luke Kuechly after the legendary linebacker announced his retirement this offseason. They will be relying on Tahir Whitehead to deliver the goods in 2020. But more will be needed going forward.

One player that should be high on their shortlist next spring is Zach Cunningham. The former second-round pick out of Vanderbilt has been hugely impressive for the Houston Texans in recent years. And he took his game to new heights last season.

Cunningham was a tackling machine at the second level on his way to 99 solo tackles, 142 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, three quarterback hits, and two pass deflections. There appears little doubt that he represents a big upgrade on what Carolina currently has at the position. And acquiring his services could come at a significant cost financially.

Spotrac projects Cunningham to make $12.3 million per year during his next contract on a five-year, $61.58 million deal. If the Panthers managed to acquire his services, then it would shore up this area of the field considerably.

Someone like Kuechly cannot ever be replaced. He was the heart and soul of Carolina’s defense. And although he is sticking around in his role as a pro scout. Nothing will replicate what he brought on the field.

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Cunningham is one of the best in the business. So it would be a massive boost if they could tempt him to the organization next spring.