7 free agents the Carolina Panthers must aggressively pursue in 2023

(George Walker IV/The Tennessean via IMAGN Content Services) DeMarcus Walker
(George Walker IV/The Tennessean via IMAGN Content Services) DeMarcus Walker /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports) Jessie Bates III /

Carolina Panthers must pursue Jessie Bates III

  • Safety |  Cincinnati Bengals

The Carolina Panthers have an interesting dilemma at the safety position this offseason. Do they keep the tandem of Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods intact or move the former second-round pick back to the outside linebacker spot where he starred as a rookie?

Given how Chinn’s impact regressed last season overall, the latter could be the best option. Although it would benefit matters closer to the line of scrimmage, it leaves a gaping hole on the backend with little in the way of quality depth behind the starting duo.

Although he’s unlikely to be cheap, acquiring Jessie Bates III should be discussed, at the very least. The gifted defensive back played 2022 on the franchise tag and did more than enough to warrant a lucrative commitment from the Cincinnati Bengals or someone else throughout the campaign.

With the Bengals having to pay the likes of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase in the not-too-distant future, they might decide to let Bates take his chances elsewhere. Something the Panthers and others around the league should monitor closely.

Adding Bates to a secondary that also consists of Jaycee Horn – moving Chinn to the second level – is an enticing proposition. Whether the Panthers have enough financial wiggle room to make this dream a reality remains to be seen.