5 big free-agent splashes the Carolina Panthers can still make in 2024

Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could sign Justin Simmons

After no trade interest arrived, the Carolina Panthers released starting safety Vonn Bell. This raised a few eyebrows considering how productive he was when healthy in 2023, but it's yet another example of taking short-term financial hits for long-term flexibility under the new regime.

Bell leaves another hole that needs to be filled. The Panthers could go down the draft route - especially with an extra second-rounder to call upon after trading edge rusher Brian Burns to the New York Giants. If they want to go bolder, tapping into Ejiro Evero's previous relationship with Justin Simmons would be a smart avenue of pursuit.

Simmons was a shock salary-cap sacrifice by the Denver Broncos, who were on the back foot after deciding to eat a record-breaking $86 million dead money number by releasing Russell Wilson. The All-Pro remains on the market - which is something of a surprise - so striking quickly might be enough to tip the scales in Carolina's favor in this scenario.

The former third-round pick out of Boston College remains one of the league's best. Simmons is a difference-maker in all phases on the backend, he's an exceptional organizer and communicator. Almost every team would benefit greatly from his presence, including the Panthers.

His previous knowledge of Evero's defensive demands would ensure a smooth transition. Whether the player wants to wait around for more money or a team with better chances of contending is another matter.