Could new contract indicate bigger role for Frankie Luvu in 2022?

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /

Could Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Frankie Luvu’s new two-year contract indicate a bigger role for the player in 2022?

It was a no-brainer for many. But the Carolina Panthers extending outside linebacker Frankie Luvu well ahead of the 2022 free agency period was extremely pleasing.

A summer arrival from the New York Jets, Luvu quickly emerged as an important part of the defensive rotation and a core special teams player, making a series of impactful plays and making his time on the field count in no uncertain terms. The Washington State product was given an outstanding 84.8 grade from Pro Football Focus, which is further proof of just how influential he became in a relatively short space of time.

The Panthers have some big decisions to make this offseason. They obviously made Luvu an early priority by giving the player a two-year, $9 million deal, which represents a significant pay rise for someone that counted just $1.1 million against the salary cap in 2021.

This is a big financial commitment from the Panthers, especially considering money is tight at the present time. One that could indicate an even bigger role for Luvu next time around.

Frankie Luvu could be a starter for the Carolina Panthers in 2022

With Jermaine Carter and Haason Reddick also on the lookout for new deals, it’s unlikely that Carolina can come up with the necessary funds to keep both around. And if it’s a choice between the two, then it is not a hard one to make.

If Carter does depart, then the Panthers would be on the lookout for their third starting middle linebacker in as many offseasons following the shock retirement of Luke Kuechly. Not exactly ideal, but the solution could be staring Carolina in the face.

Providing the team can work out something with Reddick, then the Temple product could start once again. Luvu could also take a deserved leap into the starting lineup and shift Shaq Thompson onto the second level’s interior, where he might be best suited at this stage of his career.

Thompson took an encouraging step forward last season both in terms of production and leadership on the field. But there might not be a better time to change the former first-round pick out of Washington‘s position and it might even lead to further encouraging production if the transition is a smooth one.

This would also allow Luvu to become more of a presence on an every-down basis. This is a pressure he struggled to live with on the Jets, but few could argue that he doesn’t look a completely different player in Carolina.

Luvu was richly deserving of a new deal after becoming a rare shining light in an otherwise torrid season for the Panthers. Every good team needs individuals like him – willing to give everything for the cause with an instinct to make things happen in critical moments.

Now that this is out of the way, Carolina can focus their attention elsewhere. There are still some veteran players needing to be extended and strengthening problem positional groups should also be high on the team’s list of priorities.

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As for Luvu, he now has financial security and the possibility of enhancing his status between the white lines.