5 calls the Panthers should make first when free agency opens

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Jonnu Smith
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Jonnu Smith /
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Carolina Panthers
(Syndication: The Tennessean) Romeo Okwara /

Carolina Panthers call Romeo Okwara

Getting one of the premier pass-rushers in free agency doesn’t normally come cheap. So if the Carolina Panthers are looking for an under-the-radar defensive end with a ton of upside, then they’d be wise to put a call in Romeo Okwara’s direction.

The Detroit Lions opted to let the player take his chances on the market, which was surprising considering they didn’t franchise-tag star wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Okwara is coming off a double-digit sack season in 2020 that saw him wreak havoc on the edge for a defense that disappointed overall more often than not and putting him alongside Brian Burns on the edge has mouth-watering potential.

Carolina also has second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos at their disposal, who will be hoping for better luck with injuries next time around after showing promise down the stretch. Regardless of how well the Penn State product comes on this offseason, adding another proven pass-rusher trending on an upward curve is an attractive proposition the Panthers should consider.

As is the case with almost every decision the Panthers make in the coming days and weeks ahead, much will depend on the sort of money Okwara demands on the open market. But with 20 sacks over his five-year career to date, it might not be as expensive as going after somebody with a little more in the way of consistent production.