5 defensive sleepers for the Carolina Panthers in 2021 free agency

(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) Jourdan Lewis
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) Jourdan Lewis /
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Carolina Panthers
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Keanu Neal /

Keanu Neal – S

  • 2020 team – Atlanta Falcons

The Carolina Panthers took a bold decision to part ways with Tre Boston just one season into his three-year, $18 million deal. His production dipped tremendously from the 2019 campaign and considering the savings involved with fellow safety Juston Burris, it could leave the backend with a completely different look by the time competitive action begins once again later this year.

There is a real chance Carolina moves Jeremy Chinn back to his preferred position despite making the biggest of impressions as an outside linebacker during his rookie. However, if the Panthers choose to keep him at the second level it leaves them looking at free agency and a deep safety draft class for potential upgrades.

Keanu Neal is one name who might not be getting spoken about too much, but the upside is there for all to see. Getting the talented player from an NFC South divisional rival represents a coup that will stand them in good stead and although the Atlanta Falcons struggled overall defensively in 2020, the former first-round pick did enough to earn a creditable 68.2 grade from Pro Football Focus.

There is a changing of the guard in Atlanta, which might mean Neal has to find an alternative source of employment. This would be music to the Panthers’ ears and they shouldn’t hesitate in making an offer if the veteran tests the market.