Grading every Carolina Panthers signing of 2021 free agency so far

(Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports) Micah Simon
(Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports) Micah Simon /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Denzel Perryman /

The Carolina Panthers have been shrewd with the free-agent signings so far, but how does each move rank in terms of improving the roster in 2021?

It’s been an unspectacular free agency period for the Carolina Panthers in terms of big splashes, which was to be expected in the current financial climate and not uncommon across the league. Teams are adjusting like never before to comply with the shrinking salary cap and these sacrifices have resulted in many proven veteran players still searching for a new home almost a month into the process.

Scott Fitterer’s patient approach to 2021 free agency might be worth its weight in gold before it’s time for players to get back down to business. Carolina still has $23.45 million in cap space remaining and if the general manager can pick up a couple of veterans that can start right away on short-term deals, it might just allow him to go with the best player available in the NFL Draft once the quarterback situation has been resolved one way or another.

Just when that is going to be and which direction the Panthers are going to go down remains to be seen. But one thing that is not up for debate is that their next signal-caller decision will define the tenures of both Fitterer and Matt Rhule moving forward.

There has been plenty of activity from Carolina over the last month in terms of recruitment. We took a look at and graded each signing made by the organization so far.

Signing No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Dan Arnold /

Dan Arnold – Carolina Panthers TE

  • Free-agent signing grade – B

This was a huge need for the Panthers heading into the offseason. Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz just didn’t get the job done in pursuit of becoming Greg Olsen’s long-term successor, with Dan Arnold sure to offer more in the passing game than Carolina’s two options managed last time out.

Arnold arrives from the Arizona Cardinals and has previous experience working with Joe Brady from their time together with the New Orleans Saints. He possesses quality route-running, has assured hands and also manages to make an impression in red-zone situations to further enhance his overall influence.

The Panthers will probably bring in another athletic pass-catcher via the 2021 NFL Draft at some stage. But it’s hard not to look at Arnold’s potential and not think he isn’t going to be a huge upgrade.