5 free agents that could help the Panthers immediately after 1-2 start

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Dee Ford
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Dee Ford /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Star Lotulelei /

Carolina Panthers could target Star Lotulelei

As stated previously, the Carolina Panthers are short of reliable depth options on their defensive line. Marquan McCall’s emergence from an undrafted free agent onto the rotation is encouraging, but the stakes are too high for the organization to rely so heavily on an unproven product just three weeks into the 2022 season.

Stopping the run remains a concern no matter what defensive coordinator Phil Snow will tell you. There’ve been moments when this has excelled throughout the campaign to date, but things get less certain once the likes of Derrick Brown and Matt Ioannidis are rotated out of the lineup for rest purposes.

One of the more intriguing names still on the market is Star Lotulelei. The formidable interior lineman is no stranger to Carolina after spending his first five years with the franchise, who thought enough of the Utah product to draft him No. 14 overall after a standout college career.

Lotulelei was a salary-cap casualty on the Buffalo Bills this offseason and replaced by former Panthers defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. While it’s unlikely he’ll have the conditioning for an immediate starting berth, there’s nothing to suggest he cannot occupy a prominent position on the depth chart with a smooth transition to familiar surroundings.

This would be a cool story if Lotulelei came full circle back to the Panthers. Whether joining a team in flux is something he’d consider remains the bigger question.