Carolina Panthers defense has life after Kawann Short

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Kawann Short
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Kawann Short /

Although losing someone with the influence of Kawann Short might be seen as a blow, the Carolina Panthers showed there is life after the Pro Bowler.

Releasing Kawann Short was a smart move by the Carolina Panthers. The veteran defensive tackle managed just five games in the last two years due to a torn rotator cuff and a shoulder issue, so considering the salary-cap savings involved with his release on Tuesday, it was something of a no-brainer from the front office.

This now gives Carolina an extra $9.82 million in extra funds ahead of what promises to be another eventful free agency for the franchise. There are some huge decisions to make regarding current personnel and the Panthers’ aggressive pursuit of getting an upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback could come with some significant ramifications.

Short is another member of the old guard that now has to find a new home. He was one of the few remaining members of the Super Bowl 50 team and enjoyed a phenomenal career with the Panthers before injuries took their toll.

However, the Panthers showed in 2020 that there is already life after the two-time Pro Bowler.

Carolina Panthers defense progressed well during the season.

Things weren’t easy for the defensive front during the early part of the campaign. They struggled to generate any sort of meaningful pressure if it wasn’t coming from stud edge rusher Brian Burns. But the encouraging strides made over the second half of the season could see this area of the field become one of real strength with further development and a couple of notable additions either in free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft.

Derrick Brown is now the alpha on the interior.

And it’s a responsibility he is more than ready for.

Not having Short alongside the No. 7 overall selection in 2020 made him one of the NFL’s most double-teamed defensive tackles, even as a rookie. Brown recorded 34 tackles, two sacks, eight tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, four passes defended, and 19 pressures in 2020, which is a remarkable achievement considering how much opposing protection schemes focused on him.

There is just no telling how much better Brown can be in the future. So if the likes of Zach Kerr and Bravvion Roy can also make strides before competitive action begins in 2021, it will stand them in tremendously good stead.

Bringing Efe Obada back in free agency would also be welcome. The versatile player came of age in 2020 on the outside or as a three-technique defensive tackle to record 5.5 sacks, which contributed significantly to a stark turnaround in production down the stretch.

Losing a player who’s meant so much to the Panthers as Short usually takes a period of adjustment. One only has to look at how much Carolina missed Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen, and even Cam Newton following their respective departures last season – but considering how little the former second-round pick has played over the last two years, this has already taken place.

Getting a proven veteran or exciting college recruit to replace Short won’t do any harm, especially as the Panthers released Woodrow Hamilton from their defensive front recently. Carolina currently has $35.2 million in salary-cap space, according to Spotrac, which might touch the $45 million mark with additional cuts.

Short will go down as one of the Panthers’ greatest-ever defenders and still has a lot to offer another franchise providing he can stay healthy. However, it’s hard not to look at the way Carolina’s defensive line improved last season to see that his presence won’t be missed a significant amount.