Signing Takkarist McKinley could improve Carolina Panthers’ pass rush

Las Vegas Raiders Takkarist McKinley. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Raiders Takkarist McKinley. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

A pressing issue heading into this offseason is the Carolina Panthers’ pass rush. This could be solved with a simple free agent signing. 

As of late, the Carolina Panthers have not been the same pass-rushing team that fans have seen in the past. There were many games during the 2020 season where the defensive front finished without a sack, although it did get better as the campaign went on.

The Panthers already have one rising star at one of their edge-rushing positions with Brian Burns. However, his counterparts of Stephen Weatherly, Efe Obada, and Yetur Gross-Matos did not match his production. The 2019 first-round pick finished with nine sacks, while the other defensive ends finished with a combined number of eight.

Moreover, Carolina was among the top-three teams in sacks during the 2017 and 2019 seasons. However, the Panthers fell significantly during 2020, as they only finished with 29 quarterback takedowns, making them the 10th worst across the league.

The Panthers failed to get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which allowed for teams to have time in the pocket and make accurate passes down the field. If Carolina wants to avoid this in 2021, then they must pick up some upgrades during free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

One person the Panthers should look at targeting is Takkarist McKinley. He’s currently on the Las Vegas Raiders, but he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Takkarist McKinley matches the Carolina Panthers’ defensive scheme.

McKinley played his first three full seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, where he accumulated 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. He only played in four games Dan Quinn in 2020 before he was waived and eventually signed by the Raiders.

The defensive end has primarily played in a 4-3 for his entire career. The Panthers moved to a 3-4 in 2019 with mixed success, but they moved back to a 4-3 scheme with Phil Snow as the defensive coordinator.

If the Panthers want to target McKinley, then they would be getting someone who fits their scheme.

During his rookie season, McKinley showed some promise with his awareness on the field. He deflected a pass and forced two fumbles and also had a fumble recovery.

McKinley has a lot of potential as a pass-rushing defensive end. While he fits a need for Carolina, fans should also remember that he grew up a Panthers fan.

There’s no doubt he would be interested, but the Panthers would need to offer a good deal.

Recently, Pro Football Focus predicted that McKinley would re-sign with the Raiders. Jon Gruden has already stated that he wants him to stick around, so the Panthers will need to compete for him with little in the way of financial resources available.

The Panthers already have a major free agent with Taylor Moton. If the Panthers re-sign him, then it’s really going to cut into their free agency budget. This would also mean that Carolina would have to possibly make additional roster moves.

No matter how the Panthers handle their current free agents, the team needs to think about what they can do to improve their pass rush.