4 former Panthers who should be Hall of Famers before Julian Edelman

(Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) Julian Edelman
(Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) Julian Edelman /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly /

Luke Kuechly – Former Carolina Panthers LB

There will never be another Luke Kuechly where the Carolina Panthers are concerned. The legendary linebacker was the heart and soul of the organization from a defensive standpoint before announcing his shock retirement once the 2019 campaign came to a conclusion, which rocked the franchise to its core.

Kuechly walked away from the right reasons and he is still playing a substantial role behind the scenes in his role as a pro scout. But to say his presence was sorely missed at the second level in 2020 would be the biggest of understatements.

The former Boston College standout wasted no time in making his presence felt at the next level. Kuechly won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons to start his career, which ended with five All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowl trips in eight years.

Kuechly’s intelligence to determine which plays were happening even before the snap, which proved highly frustrating for opposing quarterbacks but benefitted the Panthers enormously. This wasn’t enough to give the Panthers an elusive first Super Bowl triumph despite going close, but his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be assured once it’s time for the linebacker to enter consideration.

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Julian Edelman may have the rings. But Kuechly is one of the league’s greatest-ever players at the position.