4 players the Carolina Panthers were smart to stay away from

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes /

Xavier Rhodes – CB

The Carolina Panthers underwent big changes in their cornerback room this offseason. James Bradberry, Javien Elliott, and Ross Cockrell were not brought back by the organization. And it has left them with a new-look unit that comes with their fair share of concerns.

How they are going to handle the pressure against some devastating passing attacks on the schedule will have a huge say in how the Panthers will get on in 2020. There were plenty of experienced free agents that could have come in and filled the void short-term. But they were wise to stay away from one in particular.

Xavier Rhodes was once regarded as arguably the NFL’s best shutdown corner. His All-Pro campaign in 2017 saw him cancel out the threat of some of the best in the business. But his stark decline over the last two seasons saw him eventually released by the Minnesota Vikings.

This fall from grace is a timely reminder of how things can quickly change in the NFL. Rhodes was burned constantly for the Vikings in 2019. And his petulance on the sidelines indicated that the writing was on the wall early on regarding his departure.

The Panthers did eventually bring in a veteran in the form of Eli Apple, who has plenty of questions to answer of his own after failing to live up to his promise. Rhodes eventually ended up with the Indianapolis Colts after signing a one-year deal. But whether this will result in a renaissance from the player is highly debatable.