5 NFC West free agents the Carolina Panthers should target in 2021

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Josh Reynolds
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Josh Reynolds /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) Ahkello Witherspoon /

Which free agents from the NFC West could the Carolina Panthers possibly acquire during what is expected to be a frenzied period later this month?

What transpires over the next few weeks for the Carolina Panthers is of critical importance. They finished 5-11 for the second straight season after wholesale changes across the board within the organization, so more is expected in year two of Matt Rhule’s reign and that makes every decision in free agency all the more crucial.

Make no mistake, there promises to be a hive of activity once again.

Perhaps even more so this time around considering how many complications there could possibly be across the NFL due to the salary-cap coming down for the first time in years.

Teams will be cutting established veterans who would normally be kept around, which is something the Panthers have already done to free-up some additional funds to spend.

Carolina Panthers GM has extensive knowledge of the NFC West.

New general manager Scott Fitterer is being thrown in at the deep end, which is something he appears more than ready for. His work behind the scenes with the Seattle Seahawks has drawn widespread praise and clearly impressed owner David Tepper during a whirlwind week from the first interview to signing on the dotted line.

The plan constructed between Fitterer and Rhule is already generating some significant buzz. Rumors continue to swirl surrounding a potential trade to lure Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans, but it’s evident that the Panthers are going to make a substantial splash one way or another as they look to move on from Teddy Bridgewater.

Nobody will know more about NFC West talent than Fitterer. Here are five free agents from the division that could be on Carolina’s radar in 2021.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Kelvin Beachum /

Kelvin Beachum – OT

  • 2020 team – Arizona Cardinals

It doesn’t appear likely that the Carolina Panthers will be keeping veteran left tackle Russell Okung around in 2021. The Pro Bowler did well when he was in the lineup, but injury problems restricted him to just seven games and a more dependable presence will be needed to move them forward.

If the Panthers choose to bring in another veteran during free agency rather than an eye-catching prospect via the 2021 NFL Draft, then Kelvin Beachum should be on the shortlist. The experienced edge protector was an ever-present for the Arizona Cardinals last season, giving up three sacks and five penalties from 1,126 snaps on his way to an impressive 69.0 grade from Pro Football Focus.

This wouldn’t be the longest-term solution to their blindside protection. But Beachum showed more than enough to indicate he could be a big help providing the price is right.