5 free agents who could immediately start for the Carolina Panthers

(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) Sheldon Richardson
(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) Sheldon Richardson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports) Malik Hooker /

Malik Hooker – S

  • 2020 team – Indianapolis Colts

Malik Hooker is a strong candidate to come in and become a starter for the Carolina Panthers. During free agency, the front office released Tre Boston, so the team could use a quality addition to play next to Jeremy Chinn if Juston Burris doesn’t work out.

When looking at the league’s remaining free-agent safeties, Hooker is easily the best candidate left. He spent his last four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, where he started in all but one game.

While with the Colts, Hooker racked up seven interceptions, 124 combined tackles, and 81 solo tackles. He only played in two games last season with the Colts before he tore his Achilles.

Hooker’s injury is a hard one to come back from, which is why teams have overlooked him. If healthy, he’s a young and dangerous option that has the ability to still improve his game.

The speed of Hooker is one of his greatest strengths, as they are rare for a young defensive back. He’s also got fast feet which helps him recover quickly if the player takes a false step in pass coverage.

If the Panthers want someone who can stick with their man and can effectively read routes, then Hooker is their guy to start. He could be in for a good payday next spring with an injury-free campaign but Carolina should be able to pick him up on a one-year deal if he’s able to play.