5 biggest Carolina Panthers needs at the 2022 midseason point

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Damien Wilson /

Carolina Panthers must improve LB options

Considering the expectations surrounding the linebacking corps before the season, it’s been marginally better than anticipated. Although the bar was extremely low given what’s transpired at the second level since the days of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.

Damien Wilson and Shaq Thompson have had moments of quality. The growing emergence of Frankie Luvu after his new deal and well-deserved promotion to the starting lineup is another encouraging element to build upon long-term.

However, with Thompson’s heading into the final year of his deal and Wilson set to become a free agent, there won’t be a better chance for Carolina to bring in some significant changes.

Thompson is set to count $24.46 million against the salary cap in 2023. There’s a good chance he’s traded or released entirely as a result, which would make the need for additional signings or draft picks even more critical in this area of the field.

Much will depend on how the Panthers view Brandon Smith. The fourth-round selection has been a bit-part player so far, but the coaching staff should integrate him more over the second half of 2022 to see what they might have in the former Penn State star.

A new head coach brings a completely different set of ideas. So it would be a shock if plenty of linebacker comings and goings took place before Carolina’s 2023 camp.