Stay or go? Carolina Panthers 2021 free agents on defense

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Efe Obada
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Efe Obada /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead /

Adarius Taylor – Carolina Panthers LB

  • Stay or Go? GO

Little was expected of Adarius Taylor when he arrived on the Carolina Panthers. So the fact he failed to make the most out of whatever opportunities that came his way wasn’t that much of a surprise.

The linebacker just didn’t show the sort of talent needed to carve out a role for himself long-term. Taylor should be moved on when it’s time to decide which players to keep around and he’ll have his work cut out getting another chance elsewhere.

Tahir Whitehead – Carolina Panthers LB

  • Stay or Go? GO

Filling Luke Kuechly’s role in the first season after his shock retirement was always going to be a monumental task. But Tahir Whitehead‘s dismal level of performances only heightened just how the Panthers missed the perennial All-Pro at the second level.

Whitehead made a strong impression during training camp on his way to being named as a team captain. However, it was clear very early on that he didn’t have what it takes and things only improved on Carolina’s defense when he was removed from the starting lineup in favor of Jermaine Carter.

Cutting Whitehead loose will be one of the easiest decisions the Panthers make this offseason. And the player can have absolutely no complaints.

Julian Stanford – Carolina Panthers OLB

  • Stay or Go? STAY

There were some nice moments during the limited time Julain Stanford saw the field in 2020. He provided some energy and quality tackling both on defense and special teams, which might be enough for the outside linebacker to earn another short-term deal.

Much will depend on what moves the Panthers make in free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft as to whether players like Stanford have a future in Carolina. But every team needs these sorts of players to solidify depth and if Jeremy Chinn moves back to safety following the release of Tre Boston, the need for bodies in this area is there for all to see.