4 ways Carolina Panthers can improve on defense in 2021

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Strengthen linebacker options

Losing legendary linebacker Luke Kuechly to a shock retirement following the 2019 season was always going to come with a period of adjustment. The perennial All-Pro’s intelligence on the field and his supreme leadership qualities were sorely missed and the dismal free-agent signing of Tahir Whitehead only made things worse.

Things got a little better when Jermaine Carter came out of Matt Rhule’s dog house and into the starting lineup. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that some substantial reinforcements are needed and especially if the Carolina Panthers end up moving Jeremy Chinn back to safety.

Shaq Thompson’s future is also up in the air thanks to the big pay rise coming his way that his production simply doesn’t warrant. So expect the Panthers to be aggressive in this area of the field in free agency or the draft.

Getting the type of player who fits Rhule’s mold is going to be key. Carolina needs more energy at the second level and if they can also get in someone who is capable of rushing the passer, it would make a massive difference.

There will never be another Kuechly. But the sooner Carolina gets in someone who can fill the void long-term, the better it will be.