4 free agents that could instantly start for the Panthers in 2022

(George Walker IV/The Tennessean via IMAGN Content Services) Julio Jones
(George Walker IV/The Tennessean via IMAGN Content Services) Julio Jones /
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Carolina Panthers
(Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports) Dont’a Hightower /

Carolina Panthers could target Dont’a Hightower

Luke Kuechly’s retirement was expected to hit the Carolina Panthers hard. The perennial All-Pro was a phenomenal force at the second level from the moment he stepped onto the field and the organization is still trying to find the right formula at the inside linebacker spot three years after the legendary figure called it a day.

Carolina secured the services of Damien Wilson and Cory Littleton in free agency. They also managed to trade up and snag Brandon Smith in the 2022 NFL Draft – a development project with high-ceiling capabilities.

Wilson is currently awaiting fate following an offseason arrest with some concerning allegations attached. This might lead the Panthers to go in a different direction depending on what transpires in the not-too-distant future.

If the Panthers are looking for a quick fix that could solve problems in 2021, then Dont’a Hightower is a player that ticks all the boxes. The former Alabama standout enjoyed a phenomenal career with the New England Patriots and would provide an instant upgrade on anything Carolina’s churned out at the position since Kuechly departed the ranks.

Perhaps influential figures within the organization are waiting to see how things play out with Wilson before exploring other options. But this represents an intriguing possibility that would also provide an exceptional leadership presence within the locker room for good measure.