Carolina Panthers linked to veteran LB in free agency mock draft

(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) Lavonte David
(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) Lavonte David /

The Carolina Panthers were linked to veteran linebacker Lavonte David in a free agency mock draft published by CBS Sports.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Carolina Panthers approach their recruitment when free agency begins. Accumulating enough financial resources is the first hurdle to overcome, which is something those in power are already working on if Austin Corbett’s recent contract restructure is any indication.

Some decisions will be easier than others. But if the Panthers get the majority of their personnel moves right with general manager Scott Fitterer leading the charge, it could be a profitable campaign in 2023 under new head coach Frank Reich.

One area that could be set for big changes is the linebacking corps. Ejiro Evero’s 3-4 base scheme comes with endless possibilities, but solidifying the interior would be prudent depending on what transpires with Shaq Thompson and his whopping salary cap hit on the final year of his deal.

Carolina Panthers linked to veteran linebacker Lavonte David

This was a topic recently discussed by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, who linked the Panthers to Lavonte David in his free agency mock draft. A move that might only end up being a short-term solution to an ongoing problem since the great Luke Kuechly retired following the 2019 season.

"“Carolina has young stars at the front and back of its defense, but the Panthers could still use a heartbeat at the center, and David, 33, has long provided that for the rival Buccaneers. Yes, he’s older, but his play has not slipped, and his leadership would surely be welcomed by new coach Frank Reich, who’s especially keen on fostering growth on and off the field.”"

David has been a thorn in Carolina’s side for years thanks to his sterling performances for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The reigning NFC South champions are set for a major period of transition after Tom Brady officially retired, so the linebacker could be on the outside looking in when the free-agent frenzy formally gets underway.

Whether this is something the Panthers ponder to ensure they hit the ground running under Reich remains to be seen. David’s credentials are there for all to see and his 124 tackles achieved in 2022 were proof that there could be plenty left in the tank.

According to Spotrac, the former Nebraska standout stands to command a one-year deal for around $9.7 million. Not inexpensive by any stretch, but something the Panthers could afford providing they make the necessary sacrifices in the coming weeks.

David would bring leadership, a winning mentality, and proven production at the highest level. These are traits almost every middle linebacker since Kuechly has been lacking in Carolina, but Fitterer might decide to take his chances with a talented, cheaper option from the college ranks with one of the team’s eight selections this year.

Nobody would moan all that much if David joined the Panthers from a divisional rival. In fact, this could make all the difference in the pursuit of gaining control of the NFC South once and for all.

Fitterer knows how important this offseason is for the team and his own status. Adding David to a talented young defense is a possibility that shouldn’t be dismissed in the slightest.

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