4 NFC East free agents that could take the Panthers to the next level

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) Ronald Darby
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) Ronald Darby /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) Aldon Smith /

Aldon Smith- DE

  • 2020 team – Dallas Cowboys

Aldon Smith had a promising start to the 2020 season. Coming off multiple years of suspension with four of his five sacks in the first three games. Three of those coming in one contest against the Seattle Seahawks. However, he faded down the stretch and recorded only one more quarterback takedown the rest of the season and at times looked to not finish plays.

At the start of his career, Smith looked like a sure thing for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, recording 33.5 sacks in just his first two seasons. Fourteen of these came as a rookie when he didn’t even start.

However, suspensions derailed what was a very bright future.

He was first suspended by the NFL in 2014 for violating the substance abuse policy and continued to struggle, eventually being handed an indefinite suspension that lasted until he was reinstated before the 2020 season.

Smith’s off-field problems have been well documented, as has his potential on the field. Anyone has the ability to change and better themselves and if Smith truly has gotten himself back on track he would be a great rotational piece to put behind Brian Burns.

Gone are the days of Smith producing at the prolific rate he started out with. But if he is used in a way that conserves his energy he can be a game-changer, as shown by his early-season production.

A player subbed in on third downs as a pure rusher would be the place he would excel and that is a place of need for the Carolina Panthers as well. Especially with the recent extension of Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the total of one sack recorded on him by the team last year.