5 most important free-agents for the Panthers to re-sign in 2021

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Moton
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Moton /
3 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Russell Okung /

Russell Okung – Carolina Panthers OT

The Carolina Panthers made a bold move to trade for Russell Okung this offseason in a move that sent Pro Bowler Trai Turner to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Super Bowl winner has been a tremendous asset for the protection during his time on the field. But there are plenty of elements to consider if his stay with the franchise is to last more than one year.

There is no disputing that Okung still has plenty to offer. He’s proved this with some consistent performances this season.

It’s staying healthy that’s the problem.

Okung has dealt with some nagging injuries that normally come to players entering the twilight of their careers. He has featured in just six games this season and his unreliability might result in the organization going younger when it’s time to make the big decisions that will hopefully see Carolina become a postseason contender sooner rather than later.

Another element to consider is whether Okung actually wants to keep on playing beyond this season. He has seen and done it all in the NFL and this obviously impacts the hunger of an older player compared to someone entering the league from college in 2021.

Third, and perhaps most important, is the finances involved.

Okung is currently playing for $13 million in base salary, which would need to come down pretty substantially in order for the Panthers to keep him around. Providing a common ground is met, the left tackle could still be very useful providing he doesn’t suffer the same sort of injury problems.