4 burning questions facing the Carolina Panthers LBs in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly /

What are some burning questions facing the Carolina Panthers at linebacker heading into a pivotal 2021 season for the organization?

The ghost of Luke Kuechly still hangs over the Carolina Panthers more than one year after his shock retirement after eight glorious seasons. Health concerns meant the perennial All-Pro had to call it a day ahead of time and – as expected – there was a gaping hole at the second level without him in 2020.

Carolina’s decision to acquire Tahir Whitehead from the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency was a disaster. He simply wasn’t up to the required standard and things didn’t begin to improve until the coaching staff mercifully benched the veteran midway through the season.

Whether the Panthers did enough to strengthen this area of the field during the offseason is up for debate. It’s been an impressive preparation period overall on defense, with this young and vibrant unit expected to become a dominant force next season and possibly beyond.

The linebackers are going to play an important role. At least from the outside looking in, it would be a tremendous shock if substantial improvements weren’t made both from a production standpoint and regarding overall consistency.

Things could go either way for the Panthers this season. There is more than enough talent to potentially become one of the league’s surprise packages, but if certain problem areas don’t perform as expected, then the same complications will no doubt emerge.

With this in mind, here are four burning questions facing the Panthers at linebacker in 2021.