4 Panthers players fighting for their futures in season finale

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Jermaine Carter /

Jermaine Carter – Carolina Panthers LB

Jermaine Carter‘s place on the 53-man roster is secure. However, whether the Carolina Panthers are convinced he is the man to be their long-term starter at linebacker is another matter entirely.

Carolina seemed reluctant to throw Carter into the lineup despite the obvious struggles of free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead. Given how well the former fifth-round pick has performed, it’s a move the coaching staff should have made a lot sooner.

Carter’s increased energy at the second level has improved the overall fortunes of the unit. Shaq Thompson’s play has improved by having someone better alongside him and the defense has benefitted enormously from not having Whitehead bringing them down.

Even though Carter has made the most out of this opportunity, there will still be a temptation for the Panthers to select Penn State sensation Micah Parsons if he’s available in the 2021 NFL Draft. A big performance from the third-year-pro might make Carolina change their minds and strengthen other areas of need.

Carter has 38 tackles – 18 of which are solo – to go alongside two tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery this season. He has been a breath of fresh air at a position that has severely missed Luke Kuechly, but it remains to be seen whether he’s done enough to be the starter in 2021.