5 AFC South free-agents the Panthers could target in 2021

(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY ) J.J. Watt
(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY ) J.J. Watt /
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Carolina Panthers
(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports) Malik Hooker /

Malik Hooker – S

  • 2020 team – Indianapolis Colts

Although Malik Hooker has had some problems from a health perspective over his career, there is a lot to like about the sort of skills he brings to the table. The safety anticipates the game extremely well and is a ferocious hitter at the point of attack, which are two things the Carolina Panthers need from any incoming recruit on the backend.

The need for additional reinforcements within their safety corps is now more pressing following the team’s decision to release Tre Boston just one season into the three-year, $18 million deal he signed last offseason. He was a much-loved and influential member of the locker room, but the player’s performances on the field left a lot to be desired in 2020.

Hooker featured in just two games last season due to a torn Achilles. This is one of the more difficult problems to recover from and it would be a big gamble on the former No. 15 overall selection if the Panthers chose to go in this particular direction.

Couple this with a couple of knee problems over his career and it’s not hard to see why this move would be a risk.

However, if Hooker can get back to anything like his former self, Carolina would have a real player on their hands. The Indianapolis Colts might look to go in a different and more reliable direction in 2021, which could mean he’s available at a good price.