5 Carolina Panthers players with big shoes to fill in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Jaycee Horn
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Denzel Perryman /

Denzel Perryman – Carolina Panthers LB

  • Shoes to fill – Luke Kuechly

The retirement of Luke Kuechly sent shockwaves through the Carolina Panthers. Even though he walked away for all the right reasons, the legendary linebacker’s presence on the field and in the locker room was sorely missed.

One cannot really measure just how vital Kuechly was to Carolina’s game plan. He had an uncanny ability to call out plays even before the snap, which was down to his meticulous preparation matched by outstanding production when it mattered most.

The Panthers experimented with Tahir Whitehead on the interior, which bombed pretty quickly and things only got better when the former Temple prospect was put out of his misery and onto the bench.

There is far more upside where Denzel Perryman is concerned. The Miami product arrived in free agency after catching the eye for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020, something that represents a substantial upgrade on Whitehead from the outside looking in.

In truth, Kuechly’s overall influence could never be matched. But if Perryman can bring the sort of energy and aggressiveness we’ve seen throughout his career, that will be more than enough.

Perryman has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders in Carolina. But there is little doubt the player is more than ready for this step-up judging by his production so far.