5 former Panthers players you’ve probably forgotten about

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Will Witherspoon
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Will Witherspoon /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images) Will Witherspoon /

Will Witherspoon – LB

Letting Will Witherspoon go was a bad call by the Carolina Panthers. The ferocious linebacker enjoyed a phenomenal start to his NFL career with the organization but left after just four seasons to sign a whopping six-year, $33 million deal with $15 million guaranteed to join the St. Louis Rams, which was huge money for a defensive player at the time.

Witherspoon was taken in the third round by the Panthers in the 2002 NFL Draft and the former Georgia standout wasted no time in making his presence felt at the next level. His high football IQ enabled him to be around the ball consistently from the outset, recording 170 tackles over his first two seasons in Carolina.

This was followed by a 2004 season that saw Witherspoon rack up 103 tackles, three sacks, and 14 passes defended, which was the best of his brief time with the organization. Another strong campaign on the final year of his rookie deal came in 2005 and that was all the Rams needed to see before offering him money the Panthers just couldn’t – or didn’t want to – match.

Witherspoon went on the play nine more seasons in the NFL and finished with 951 tackles, 64 tackles for loss, 26 sacks, 76 passes defended, and 11 forced fumbles. But those remembering his career will probably not even think about where it all started.