5 players who will make or break the Carolina Panthers season in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Dan Arnold
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Dan Arnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) Denzel Perryman /

Denzel Perryman – Carolina Panthers LB

Not having a productive player operating at inside linebacker was a key component behind another losing season for the Carolina Panthers in 2020. There was always going to be a period of transition following the jaw-dropping retirement of Luke Kuechly, who gave absolutely everything to the organization and remained an integral part of the roster.

But it’s hard to envisage how things could have gone worse in Carolina’s first season without the perennial All-Pro.

The decision to bring in Tahir Whitehead was nothing short of a disaster.

It didn’t take long to realize that he wasn’t capable of replicating even half of what Kuechly brought to the table. Even though things did improve when Jermaine Carter came into the fold, it was no surprise to see the Panthers strengthen this positional group this offseason.

Denzel Perryman arrived in free agency from the Los Angeles Chargers and the upside is there for all to see. The former second-round pick has had some injury problems throughout his career, but providing there are no further complications it’s represents a significant upgrade on anything Carolina has at their disposal.

There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of quality depth behind Perryman. If he was forced to miss an extended period of time, it would be a significant blow.