5 defensive free agents for the Carolina Panthers’ wish-list in 2022

(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Marcus Maye
(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Marcus Maye /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Barr /

Anthony Barr – OLB

  • 2021 team – Minnesota Vikings

Not having Anthony Barr fit and firing on all cylinders is something that hurt the Minnesota Vikings last season. Mike Zimmer’s normally formidable defense was a shell of its former self and was the main protagonist behind the team missing the postseason despite an outstanding turnaround after the bye week.

Minnesota avoided the temptation to release Barr for salary-cap purposes this offseason, which was the right call to make. He is a quality run defender that can generate pressure when called upon, which will come in use as the Vikings look to return to the form of old in 2021.

Barr is heading into a contract year, so it could be his last season with the team that took him in the first round. He almost left the organization once before after agreeing to a deal with the New York Jets, only for him to go back on his decision at the last minute and remain in Minnesota.

The Carolina Panthers have Haason Reddick and Shaq Thompson manning the outside linebacker positions next season. But the future of both is up in the air long-term.

Reddick will be looking for a huge payday in Carolina or elsewhere if he puts up similar numbers to what we saw with the Arizona Cardinals last time out. Thompson needs to perform much better to justify a cap increase of more than $18 million in 2022.

If both aren’t kept around beyond this season, the outside linebacker spot will quickly become one of the team’s biggest priorities.