Could Takk McKinley solve the Panthers’ pass-rushing problems?
By Dean Jones
Takk McKinley might be an intriguing option for the Carolina Panthers.
Takk McKinley has finally been put out of his misery with the Falcons. And it might be worth the Carolina Panthers making a claim for the edge rusher.
Getting consistent pressure outside of their 2019 first-round pick Brian Burns has become something of a problem for the Carolina Panthers this season. This has hurt them considerably and although things seem to be trending on an upward curve in this regard, bringing a player like McKinley into the franchise who has a point to prove is an enticing option, to say the least.
The former first-round pick’s turbulent time in Atlanta finally came to an end when he was waived on Monday. McKinley has been vocal regarding his displeasure with the team’s handling of a possible trade despite some interest before the deadline. But whether the Panthers are willing to take such a gamble on a player who has flattered to deceive throughout his career is another matter entirely.
When McKinley is firing on all cylinders, he is a force to be reckoned with. He managed to generate 13 sacks over his first two years in the NFL but never quite reached the heights expected of a No. 26 overall pick.
The Carolina Panthers need to improve their pass-rush.
A change of scenery is probably the best solution for all parties involved. McKinley has enough impressive athletic traits to ensure a team claims him off waivers and the player is no stranger to the Panthers having turned out for an NFC South rival over the last four years.
Providing McKinley comes in with the right attitude, there is a lot to like about his prospects of making an impression. Carolina hasn’t gotten anything in the way of pressure from free-agent signing Stephen Weatherly and there is also the option of putting him at outside linebacker due to the poor form of Shaq Thompson in obvious pass-rushing situations.
Head coach Matt Rhule will be all-too-aware than more is needed in this area. This is a low risk, high reward pickup that wouldn’t exactly cost the earth after the Falcons opted not to activate McKinley’s fifth-year option. And nothing brings the best out of a player than fighting for more money.
The Panthers are averaging one sack per game, which is ranked joint-last in the NFL. This isn’t going to win you many football games and getting a prominent pass-rusher to put opposite Burns should be one of their top priorities next spring.
Players will McKinley’s physical attributes don’t become available too often. There might be another team with a higher waiver priority who likes what they’ve seen from him. But it’s hard to deny Carolina represents a tremendous fit and one that could be mutually beneficial.
Rhule has remained steadfast to a certain extent with the group he has available. The free agents he’s brought into the organization have been more of a practice squad or rotational standard rather than a veteran with proven experience. So although this would be going against the grain, it’s foolish not to at least consider the possibility.
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And who knows? The Panthers’ answer to their pass-rushing woes might just be staring them in the face.