6 free agents who could help the Panthers pass-rush in 2021

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Jadeveon Clowney
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Jadeveon Clowney /
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Carolina Panthers
(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) Yannick Ngakoue /

Yannick Ngakoue

  • 2020 team – Baltimore Ravens

One free agent that has flown under the radar for many people this offseason is Yannick Ngakoue. It’s quite the pivot for the 25-year-old who was one of the league’s prized trade targets less than 12 months ago.

The former Jacksonville Jaguar was traded to the Minnesota Vikings last summer, before being shipped off to the Baltimore Ravens after just six games. Despite his bouncing around, Ngakoue is one of the better pass rushers on the market right now and would make a fearsome pairing with Brian Burns.

The Pro-Bowl defensive end has recorded at least eight sacks in each of his five NFL seasons and has been an important piece of some of the league’s best defenses over that span. Ngakoue is one of the youngest edge rushers in this year’s free-agent class and easily one of the most talented.

Matt Rhule’s coaching staff did a stellar job of developing players in 2020, getting career years out of several key contributors. So the head coach could potentially do the same for Ngakoue.

Rhule demands the absolute best out of his players, and aside from half-year stints with the Vikings and Ravens, Ngakoue has never really played in a functional organization. The Jaguars had their magical 2017 run to the AFC Championship, but the rest of his time with the team was marred by internal dysfunction and teammates wanting out.

Ngakoue eventually forced his way out of Jacksonville as well, but didn’t seem to find a home in Minnesota or Baltimore. Teaming up with a hard-nosed, detail-oriented coach such as Rhule with the Carolina Panthers could be exactly what the young star needs to maximize his superstar potential.