5 Panthers players with expiring contracts who won’t be back

(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead /

LB. CAROLINA PANTHERS. player. Pick Analysis. TAHIRWHITEHEAD. 52. 87. Scouting Report

4. Tahir Whitehead – Carolina Panthers LB

Tahir Whitehead has been one of the worst free-agent signings in recent memory. Coming into the Carolina Panthers in the immediate aftermath of Luke Kuechly’s retirement was never going to be easy. But his distinct lack of production has been immensely disappointing.

Much was expected of Whitehead when he signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal this offseason. The linebacker was linking up once again with his former college coach in Matt Rhule and showed enough during his spell with the Las Vegas Raiders to leave hope he could make a lasting contribution at the second level.

This hasn’t panned out.

Whitehead’s lack of nous in coverage has been evident throughout his career, so it was unrealistic to expect a dramatic turnaround in a new environment. What has been a surprise is the player’s lack of productivity in running situations as he’s been a willing tackler in the past.

He left a lasting impression on teammates during training camp – who made him a team captain – but his dismal level of production is resulting in Whitehead being gradually phased out of the defense in recent weeks.

Whitehead saw just 23 percent of the Panthers’ defensive snaps in their Week 9 loss at the Chiefs and although Adarius Taylor has gone to the reserve/injured list, Rhule’s praise for Jermaine Carter this week could be the final nail in Whitehead’s coffin.

Releasing the player once his contract expires will be one of the easiest decisions Carolina is going to make in the spring.