4 ambitious free-agent targets for the Carolina Panthers in 2023

(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Tremaine Edmunds
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Tremaine Edmunds /
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Carolina Panthers
(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Gardner-Johnson /

Carolina Panthers could sign C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Ejiro Evero’s switch to a 3-4 base defense will see the Carolina Panthers deploy more nickel packages than ever before. Considering the options across the secondary, they might not boast the personnel to pull this off currently.

This is something that could be rectified during free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. Finding help becomes more urgent if Evero decides to move Jeremy Chinn closer to the line of scrimmage, which leaves Xavier Woods as the only reliable safety on Carolina’s roster right now.

It won’t be easy, or cheap, but identifying an instant difference-maker like C.J. Gardner-Johnson could be worth its weight in gold. The former fourth-round pick wasted no time in making his presence felt with the Philadelphia Eagles, helping their exceptional defense win the NFC in a convincing fashion at the best possible time for his own financial gain.

To the surprise of some, the Eagles didn’t use the franchise tag on anybody despite a number of key individuals hitting the market. Gardner-Johnson is no stranger to the NFC South having played his first three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, which didn’t endear him to Carolina’s fanbase but personal feelings should not get in the way of good business.

According to Spotrac, Gardner-Johnson is set to command an annual salary of $13.3 million on a five-year, $66.65 million deal. So this switch is dependent on how much spare cash the Panthers have after making the necessary sacrifices.