6 free agents who could get the Panthers in playoff contention

(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Harris
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Harris /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Which 2021 free agents would make the Carolina Panthers playoff contenders?

It’s been a season of disappointment and promise in almost equal measure for the Carolina Panthers. They have some exciting young pieces that leave significant encouragement for the future. But their 4-8 record tells the story somewhat of the team’s failings in big moments.

Hopefully, this can improve with experience. The Carolina Panthers had the big picture in mind when they gave head coach Matt Rhule a seven-year, $60 million deal to prise him away from Baylor and it’s clear that the upcoming free agency period next spring is one of the most important in the organization’s 26-year history.

If year one of Rhule’s rebuild was about experimentation, there will need to be substantial progress made the second time around. Owner David Tepper has some ambitious plans to take the Panthers forward off the field and he will not want this to come with a roster that isn’t competing for a postseason berth.

Here are six 2021 free agents who can help Carolina get themselves back into postseason contention next year.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) Joe Thuney /

Joe Thuney – OG (New England Patriots)

Joe Thuney is still one of the best interior linemen in the NFL. The guard has been at the top of his game this season on a New England Patriots team that has relinquished their stranglehold on the AFC East after two decades of domination and if he is allowed to walk in free agency the Panthers should be at the front of the queue.

Players of Thuney’s experience and knowledge of being in a winning environment will be a significant boost to a roster that lost some prominent locker room leaders in the offseason. Carolina’s interior protection might be in line for another overhaul next spring if the likes of John Miller and Chris Reed don’t finish the campaign strongly, but just how much the two-time Super Bowl champion will command remains to be seen.