5 free agents under 25-years-old the Panthers could sign in 2021

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Ezekiel Turner
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Ezekiel Turner /
1 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) D’Onta Foreman /

Which players under 25-years-old could the Carolina Panthers possibly look at targeting in 2021 free agency? The Carolina Panthers made no apologies for going through a substantial youth movement across their roster last year. Things had become a little bit stagnant under previous head coach Ron Rivera that eventually led to his firing and a fresh set of ideas from Matt Rhule that centered on athletic, hungry individuals has ensured there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged moving forward. It was an encouraging start to Rhule’s reign overall. But the Panthers still finished with a 5-11 record for the second straight year. What comes over the next few weeks in terms of recruitment and personnel decisions will go a long way to determining whether Carolina can become a realistic postseason challenger in 2021. Tough decisions have already been made to get the Panthers in a strong position to make some moves in free agency. But considering the salary-cap is coming down they still need to be shrewd regarding any potential incomings.

Carolina Panthers should continue to blend youth with experience.

Although new general manager Scott Fitterer will bring his own set of thoughts on how to make the Panthers a true force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later, going away from what worked in terms of young players with a chip on their shoulder might not be the wisest move in the world at this stage of the rebuild. With this in mind, we identified five players under 25-years-old who could become targets for the Panthers when the free-agent drama officially gets underway later this month.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports) Mitchell Wilcox /

Mitchell Wilcox – TE (ERFA)

  • 2020 team – Cincinnati Bengals

Although Mitchell Wilcox didn’t see a competitive snap on offense for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020, the organization thought enough of the player to call him up from their practice squad late in the campaign. The tight end has a lot of likable athletic traits to call upon and could be a shrewd pickup by the Carolina Panthers considering the team’s need for additional reinforcements at the position. The former South Florida standout went undrafted in 2020 despite collecting 100 receptions for 1,326 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns over a three-year spell as a starter. It remains to be seen whether Carolina will keep Ian Thomas around on the final year of his deal after he failed to become Greg Olsen’s long-term successor last time around and Chris Manhertz’s status is also uncertain heading into free agency. Even if the Panthers do acquire a proven veteran, someone like Wilcox could be a nice piece to develop and blend into the rotation gradually with further progress.