It’s time for the Panthers to cut Tahir Whitehead experiment short

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead /

Is it time for the Carolina Panthers to cut their experiment regarding linebacker Tahir Whitehead short after another disappointing display at the Falcons?

It might have been a third straight victory for the Carolina Panthers at the Falcons in Week 5. But the problems surrounding their linebacker position remain.

This is a region of the field that might come back to haunt the Carolina Panthers during the remainder of the season if things don’t start trending on an upward curve. Had it not been for the outstanding start rookie Jeremy Chinn has made to life at the next level, then this problem would be even more glaring.

Shaq Thompson has been inconsistent from a performance perspective so far. Every good game seems to be followed by a disappointing one, which is not what is expected from a former first-round pick who had ambitions to become the defensive lynchpin in Carolina after wholesale changes on defense during the offseason.

As for Tahir Whitehead, there appears plenty of questions regarding his short and long-term aspirations with the franchise.

Tahir Whitehead has contributed little to the Carolina Panthers.

The linebacker was given the significant task of slotting into the role vacated by Luke Kuechly, the perennial All-Pro who called it a day due to health issues after eight glittering seasons in Carolina. This is a steep task for even the most talented linebacker. But from what we have seen from the free-agent acquisition so far, he is clearly not up to the task.

Whitehead hasn’t had the sort impact that his former college coach Matt Rhule was hoping for. This is something of a surprise given his experience in the NFL and the way he performed for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019.

Patience might be wearing thin where Whitehead is concerned. His poor production at the Falcons resulted in Adarius Taylor replacing the veteran for a period in the second half, which is a further indication that the player might be skating on thin ice.

This is an undoubted weak link on the Panthers and one that might cost them given their increased expectations after winning three straight.

There are some avenues that Carolina can go down over the next few weeks. The decision-makers might explore the free-agent market if they don’t think Taylor is a viable starting option. Another member of the current roster that could step in if needed is Jermaine Carter, who failed to earn a starting position at outside linebacker during camp thanks to the exceptional impact rookie Chinn made in the lead-up to competitive action.

If the Panthers think they have a shot at making the postseason during Rhule’s first year as head coach, then making a move before the trade deadline is something else that warrants consideration. Whitehead has his work cut out to turn things around, and he might already be past the point of no return.

Carolina is on a three-game winning run in spite of Whitehead’s contribution. But if they want to emerge as a possible playoff contender against the odds then his play will need to improve or additional reinforcements with the capability of starting right away need to be sought.

More. Carolina Panthers: 3 potential free-agent LB competition for Tahir Whitehead. light

Whitehead signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal this spring. But it already looks as if the writing might be on the wall after a series of dismal displays through the first five weeks of the season.