5 free-agent defensive linemen the Carolina Panthers could sign in 2023

(Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports) Greg Gaines
(Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports) Greg Gaines /
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Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Khalen Saunders /

Carolina Panthers could sign Khalen Saunders

After having a mini-breakout season in 2022, the Carolina Panthers could take a chance on Khalen Saunders in free agency. After featuring sparingly in his first three years, he was given a bigger role last season and easily produced his best numbers since being selected No. 84 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The former Western Illinois man totaled 48 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2022. This also included a crucial sack during the Super Bowl as Saunders won his second ring in just four NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Of course, this isn’t a flash signing by any means. But with the Panthers’ cap constraints, they may be forced to go for a cheaper option at the position.

Spotrac projects Saunders’s contract to be in the $12.8 million range over two seasons. So he represents a potentially much more affordable option than others in this free agent class.

However, the player may have shown enough last time around for the Panthers to believe that under their new and improved coaching staff, Saunders can continue his development and become a solid starter in the league.

Saunders also has enough size to play as a nose tackle in Ejiro Evero’s system. Although this transition might take time, the upside is obvious.