4 former Panthers players who might come back in 2021

(Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) Dean Marlowe
(Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) Dean Marlowe /
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Carolina Panthers
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Which former Carolina Panthers players might the team look to bring back during 2021 free agency?

It is going to be another offseason full of drama and bold decisions for the Carolina Panthers. The organization was far more competitive than expected during the first year of head coach Matt Rhule’s reign. But their inability to come through in close games left them with a 5-11 record and plenty of uncertainty surrounding key members of their roster.

What comes next will be equally as important.

Plans have been disrupted somewhat by the salary-cap not being at the level expected thanks to COVID-19 revenue losses. Couple this with the 2021 NFL Draft evaluation process looking far different in the current climate and it’s not hard to see why things could go wrong for a team not fully prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

New general manager Scott Fitterer is facing a baptism of fire, of that there is little doubt. But he has generated a considerable amount of experience during his time with the Seattle Seahawks and, at least on the face of it, appears more than ready for this step-up in responsibility.

The Carolina Panthers could target some familiar faces.

Fitterer has stated he plans to be “in on every deal” in a bid to get the franchise back to prominence. But could this also involve bringing back some familiar faces into the fold?

While we’re on this topic, let’s take a look at four Panthers players who might be free-agent targets this offseason.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Ross Cockrell /

Ross Cockrell – CB

  • 2020 team – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s funny how life works out sometimes.

Ross Cockrell was shown the door by the Panthers prior to 2020 free agency despite playing well when called upon. A move to the New Giants fell through which left his short and long-term aspirations in doubt, but the cornerback seized an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that will now come with an unlikely Super Bowl appearance.

This is a credit to Cockrell’s resilience and ability to acclimatize to new surroundings quickly. The former fourth-round pick has more than proven his worth as a key rotational piece on the Bucs and with his contract up for renewal this spring, there will be a chance for the Panthers to bring him back if they feel he can make a contribution.

Outside of No. 1 option Donte Jackson, there are plenty of doubts surrounding the cornerback unit. Corn Elder and Rasul Douglas are free agents, with Troy Pride Jr. and Stantley Thomas-Oliver needing a little more time to hone their skills after inconsistent rookie seasons.