5 shocking trades the Panthers should consider before 2021 season

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Marcus Maye
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Marcus Maye /
5 of 6
Carolina Panthers
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) Leighton Vander Esch /

Leighton Vander Esch – LB

It’s hard to understate how big of an offseason this is for Leighton Vander Esch. The Dallas Cowboys laid the gauntlet down to the linebacker by not picking up his fifth-year option and there are some injury concerns he needs to overcome for good measure.

When the Boise State product is firing on all cylinders, he is a real force at the second level. Something we saw plenty of during a rookie campaign where Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles in 2018 to stamp an immediate mark.

These heights haven’t been reached since, with Vander Esch struggling to make the necessary improvements in 2020 as the Cowboys’ dismal defense became a laughing stock once again after so much preseason hype.

Having a full offseason period should help Vander Esch. But his career in Dallas is hanging by a thread and if a linebacker-needy team makes them a solid offer, it’s something they might consider despite Sean Lee recently hanging up his cleats after a glittering career.

They did draft Micah Parsons, after all.

The Carolina Panthers brought in Denzel Perryman from the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, but there is little in the way of depth behind the starting trio and someone like Vander Esch could help if his health problems are a thing of the past.