4 linebackers Carolina Panthers should target after Justin Strnad's U-turn

It's back to the drawing board...

Justin Strnad
Justin Strnad / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could sign Khaleke Hudson

Although defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero seems to be banging the table hard for players he's worked with previously, thinking outside the box should also be considered. The Carolina Panthers seem to be transferring investment from the defense to offensive matters to ensure quarterback Bryce Young gets a fair shake next season. That's going to come with complications unless everyone isn't fully aware of their responsibilities under the future head coach's expansive 3-4 base scheme.

Evero needs athletes in the worst possible way. If they can help on special teams for good measure, then the Panthers would be wise to turn over every stone in pursuit of finding the right fit. Someone like Khaleke Hudson comes with more upside than most still sitting on the proverbial scrap heap.

There was quiet optimism surrounding a potential breakout campaign for Hudson in 2023. He was expected to generate starting reps after flashing in Week 18 of the 2022 season against the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately for the player, head coach Ron Rivera had other ideas.

The Washington Commanders made Hudson a bystander over the first few weeks. Thanks to the woeful efforts of Cody Barton, the former fifth-round pick was introduced into the lineup, starting eight games, and reaching 74 tackles. There were some deficiencies in coverage, but one could blame the team's non-existent pressure after trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young for that.

Hudson is unlikely to return under Washington's new regime. He's got proven production as a rotational presence and featured on 73 percent of special teams snaps last season. The Panthers could do far worse, that's for sure.