5 AFC West free agents the Carolina Panthers might target in 2021

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Tyrell Williams
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Tyrell Williams /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Alex Okafor /

Alex Okafor – DE/OLB

  • 2020 team – Kansas City Chiefs

Although things got better as the season went on, the Carolina Panthers could still use a proven pass-rusher this offseason. Stud defensive end Brian Burns is a star in the making and the team has high hopes for second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos, but someone like Alex Okafor would be a tremendous asset with the recent release of Stephen Weatherly following an unproductive first campaign with the franchise.

Okafor is a Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs that still has plenty left in the tank despite being the wrong side of 30 now. The former first-round pick notched eight sacks in two years as a rotational piece and is no stranger to the NFC South having played for the New Orleans Saints.

Getting someone with proven experience that can step in at a moment’s notice would be invaluable for Carolina’s defensive front. Letting Weatherly and Kawann Short depart was a necessity considering the current financial climate. But even though both made a minimal impact in 2020, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be replaced.

As is the case with almost every move the Panthers make this offseason, much will depend on the finances involved. Kansas City is up against it from a salary-cap perspective after giving all their star names bumper new deals, so this could mean Okafor has to look elsewhere in pursuit of one more big deal in keeping with his talent.