3 free agents the Carolina Panthers must consider after 2024 minicamp

The needs are clearer after Carolina's mandatory minicamp.
Tyus Bowser
Tyus Bowser / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could sign Nick Gates

The Carolina Panthers made significant investments to their offensive line interior this offseason. Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis joined in free agency to become the team's starting guard tandem. This also came with a position switch for Austin Corbett along the way.

Corbett is moving to the center position following the Panthers' decision to release Bradley Bozeman. Confidence is high within the building that this move will reap significant rewards. However, the player's inexperience at the spot coupled with a concerning recent injury history means the jury is out.

The Panthers haven't brought in a specialist center to back up Corbett. Only undrafted free agent Andrew Raym holds that title. Whether he does enough to make the 53-man roster is another matter.

If those in power feel like another veteran presence is needed as an insurance policy, the Panthers could do far worse than Nick Gates. While his one season with the Washington Commanders didn't go according to plan, he'd be a versatile depth piece capable of playing anywhere across the offensive line interior.

Gates won the center job in Washington but struggled over his early introduction. Ron Rivera benched him in favor of Tyler Larsen, but there were more encouraging performances once he came back into the fold over the latter stages of 2023.

This wasn't enough for Gates to get a reprieve from Washington's new regime. He was released and is still looking for alternative employment. Something that could potentially enable the Panthers to pick up an experienced veteran without much cost attached.

Much will depend on whether Gates would be willing to accept a backup role. Based on how the previous campaign unfolded, that shouldn't be an issue. He might also see this as a fantastic opportunity to gain prominent reps if Corbett cannot meet expectations.

The Panthers are comfortable moving forward with Corbett as their anchor along the protection. That said, a solid contingency plan never hurts.