Carolina Panthers urged to consider bargain-basement free agent addition

Could this help solve a major issue?
Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Morgan has gone about his business effectively this offseason. There was a clear plan in place that centered on surrounding quarterback Bryce Young with more help. While it was necessary, there are questions about how the defense might perform following such a significant investment transition.

Carolina is hoping defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero can do more with less. Things are hanging precariously - especially if the same injury complications befall some established stars once again. Finding veterans with previous knowledge of his schematic demands helps, but it only goes so far.

This bares more significance on the edge. The Panthers traded Brian Burns to the New York Giants. They lost Yetur Gross-Matos and Frankie Luvu in free agency. Morgan acquired Jadeveon Clowney, D.J. Wonnum, and K'Lavon Chaisson from the veteran pool, but the jury is still out as to whether or not they can replicate the production lost.

Carolina Panthers urged to consider free-agent Markus Golden

Morgan isn't done with retooling the roster. The general manager stated that they plan to be active on the waiver wire with the No. 1 priority. Carolina also has $6.88 million in salary-cap space to plug any remaining gaps if the right opportunities come along.

The Bleacher Report's scouting department identified one bargain-basement free agent remaining on the market whom they thought the Panthers should pursue. Although Markus Golden is firmly in his career twilight, this could be a decent short-term solution that provides an upgrade in depth at the very least.

"Defensively, the [Carolina] Panthers need to find more pieces to replace the production of Brian Burns, who was traded early in the offseason. Jadeveon Clowney will help, but consistency has never been his biggest asset. Markus Golden, who produced four sacks with the [Pittsburgh] Steelers last season, is another potential bargain option to consider."

Golden has gone over double-digit sacks three times during his prolific career. He's had ups and downs like most players, but gaining four quarterback takedowns from 22 percent of Pittsburgh's defensive snaps last season indicates there could be some good football left in the right environment.

Of course, there is an element of risk attached. One only has to look at how things went with Justin Houston last season to see how these moves could go either way. Morgan was around to see that first-hand, so giving those already around an opportunity to flourish with additional responsibilities before deciding on any further action could be a realistic course of action.

It's not just edge-rushing possibilities the Panthers must examine. They are in desperate need of cornerback help, but there's been no movement on the Stephon Gilmore front after both sides appeared to show mutual interest before the 2024 NFL Draft.

Relying on Clowney and Wonnum won't be enough. Unless someone like Chaisson or D.J. Johnson makes monumental strides forward in the coming months, it would be a big surprise if Morgan didn't bring in another capable body. Anything less would be organizational malpractice.

Golden might be a possibility if the price is right. At the same time, the former second-round selection out of Missouri might be waiting around for a team with better chances of contending in 2024.

Regardless of which way it goes, the Panthers cannot afford to regress when it comes to putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. After all, the last thing Morgan needs is skepticism around his personnel decisions when positivity is so high right now.