4 mistakes the Panthers must not make in 2021 free agency

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Rhule /

What sort of mistakes can the Carolina Panthers not afford to make in free agency?

The next few weeks are of critical importance for the Carolina Panthers, to put it mildly. They have put themselves in a strong position by releasing and restructuring some established veterans to generate the seventh-most salary-cap space in the NFL ahead of free agency, which could result in some eye-catching reinforcements being brought in to assist head coach Matt Rhule during his second campaign at the helm.

New general manager Scott Fitterer is embarking on his first offseason as a significant decision-maker after arriving from the Seattle Seahawks earlier this year. A plan has probably already been formed with Rhule on how to maximize their money this spring, with the influence of owner David Tepper another strong element that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The billionaire has been patient so far as huge changes were made gradually. But it won’t be long before he wants to see some winning football now everything has been put in place.

It promises to be a dramatic free agency period for the Panthers, who have a strong young core to build around. But the lingering doubts about the future of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater make finding the right recruits even more imperative.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some potential mistakes Carolina simply cannot afford to make when the free-agent market opens.

Mistake No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Efe Obada /

Not re-signing Efe Obada and Corn Elder

Every successful organization needs players like Efe Obada and Corn Elder. The duo proved their worth in no uncertain terms last season and considering how financial resources are at a premium, bringing them both back would be a sensible option at the right price.

Obada was a ruthless force in generating pressure from the edge or as a three-technique defensive tackle over the second half of the campaign. He eventually finished with a career-high 5.5 sacks and his infectious work ethic was on full display when the lineman was handed more in the way of playing time down the stretch.

Having more responsibility also worked in Elder’s favor. The Carolina Panthers used the cornerback primarily out of the slot – where he excelled – so getting him tied down to an extension is something else the team should strongly consider.

Not bringing either back would be a big mistake and would hurt options on their rotation.