Carolina Panthers' edge rushing risk could jeopardize 2024 chances

Are the Carolina Panthers playing with fire?
Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney / Robin Alam/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Dan Morgan took a calculated risk this offseason. He knew the Carolina Panthers' relationship with Brian Burns passed the point of no return. The edge rusher's contract situation was managed terribly by the previous regime of which he was part. Something had to be done one way or another.

Morgan traded Burns to the New York Giants. The Panthers signed Jadeveon Clowney to compensate for this departure. Whether the veteran can match his overall influence is the million-dollar question.

Clowney is coming off arguably the best season of his professional career with the Baltimore Ravens. Playing closer to home was a big tipping point at this late stage of his time in the NFL. Still, the pressure is on to produce after Carolina's defense lost so many established stars throughout a frantic offseason of personnel movement.

Carolina Panthers cannot ask too much of Jadeveon Clowney

It would be a surprise if Clowney didn't make a lasting contribution on and off the field. His ability to impact proceedings against the run is renowned. This is matched by a fierce inner drive and a growing willingness to assist those following in his footsteps as the player enters his football twilight.

Adam Rank from wasn't entirely convinced - especially if the Panthers are expecting the former South Carolina star to fill the gaping pass-rushing void left by Burns. However, the analyst seemed at ease with Morgan's decision to transition the team's significant investment around quarterback Bryce Young in pursuit of getting a genuine evaluation of the signal-caller in 2024.

"You’re not going to easily replace Brian Burns, who’s in his prime, with an 11th-year veteran -- especially when you consider [Jadeveon] Clowney isn’t an every-down player like Burns. There is some credibility gained when adding a player like Clowney, a former No. 1 overall pick who’s had at least nine sacks in two of his last three seasons. The Panthers didn’t pick an edge rusher in the draft, so they must think they are good when it comes to their pass rush. Or, they are only going to worry about the offense this year, which I’m totally cool with."

Adam Rank,

Burns will be missed. So with ferocious linebacker Frankie Luvu and key rotational piece Yetur Gross-Matos. Morgan's signings haven't exactly set the world alight on defense. Instead, he's focused his attention on players primarily familiar with defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero's schematic demands.

It's a gamble, but one Morgan felt was necessary after getting a front-row seat to Young's rookie struggles. Clowney's under more pressure than most to step up. He's experienced enough to cope with this, but it's a little unfair to expect double-digit sacks and the same explosiveness Burns brought to the table.

That's not to say he cannot take attention away from others thanks to his mere presence. Having A'Shawn Robinson and Derrick Brown on the defensive front should also help. But looking at his career up to now, it could go either way.

Hopefully, playing for the team he watched and aspired to be part of as a child spurs Clowney on to great things. This would help the Panthers through an important transition and be worth all the money coming his way.