4 desirable free agents the Panthers should sign before 2023 NFL Draft
By Dean Jones
Carolina Panthers could sign Zach Cunningham
The Carolina Panthers have a need at linebacker within Ejiro Evero's 3-4 base system. However, it's not as great after Shaq Thompson put the team first and agreed to significantly restructure his contract, adding another season with almost the same guaranteed money attached.
This was lauded by the fanbase and influential figures such as general manager Scott Fitterer. Thomspon looks set to be around for the next two years at least and if he's still playing well by that point, then another deal could well be in the offing.
Vonn Bell's arrival should enable Jeremy Chinn to get himself more involved at the second level. There is also real hope that Brandon Smith can progress considerably after an encouraging rookie campaign.
Going down the draft route is another option to bolster the ranks. But there is a drop-off in talent after the first few prospects and the Panthers could prioritize other needs beforehand such as wide receiver and cornerback.
Zach Cunningham is still sitting on the market, which is something of a surprise. The former second-round selection is a decent rotational piece with bags of experience, and it's worth remembering he's just two years removed from a phenomenal 164-tackle campaign in 2020.
Cunningham endured a luckless campaign last time around due to injuries. Before that, his consistency was superb and something that could be of use in the short term.
Carolina Panthers could sign Troy Hill
Considering Donte Jackson's injury status and the inconsistencies of others within the cornerback room outside of Jaycee Horn, it's been surprising to see the Carolina Panthers ignore the position throughout the early stages of free agency. There's still time for that to change, and the price bracket obviously goes down with every passing day for those sitting on the market.
One notable name still looking for a new home that has connections to Ejiro Evero is Troy Hill. The pair worked together during their time together on the Los Angeles Rams and this could be a decent pickup all things considered.
Hill performed well for the struggling Rams last season, although he did miss five games due to injury. The player should also transition well to Evero's system given their previous working relationship.
Going down the draft route provides a longer-term option. But acquiring experience is vital if Jackson ends up missing a large part of the campaign thanks to a torn Achilles.
It doesn't look like the Panthers are willing to give up on Keith Taylor Jr. and C.J. Henderson just yet. However, there's no doubt Hill represents an upgrade and is well worth considering during the second or third waves of free agency.