Ejiro Evero connection could lead Carolina Panthers to veteran free-agent

Could another Ejiro Evero loyalist make sense for the Carolina Panthers?
Ejiro Evero
Ejiro Evero / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

While the substantial investment throughout the offseason centered on placing everything around quarterback Bryce Young is a positive step in the right direction, it does nothing to diminish the concerns defensively. Ejiro Evero is sticking around as coordinator after narrowly missing out on head coaching opportunities, but his depleted unit has some significant questions to answer heading into the 2024 campaign.

Evero worked miracles last season after the defense became decimated by injuries. The Panthers are banking on the exceptional coach to do more with less once again after several influential figures departed, but he did get the chance to acquire players he's worked with previously in the hope of keeping complications to a minimum.

Carolina Panthers urged to sign John Johnson III

Adding to the team's options is something Dan Morgan will no doubt contemplate if the right opportunities come along. The Panthers aren't exactly blessed with financial resources after deciding to eat a little more than $46 million in dead cap this offseason. At the same time, this is normally the stage when potential bargains can be found as veterans remaining on the market search for an opportunity.

Much will depend on how Evero perceives the defensive talent level and what more might be needed. If he recommends another addition to the secondary, Enzo Flojo from Clutch Points believes someone like John Johnson III makes a ton of sense.

"The Panthers should set their sights on versatile safety John Johnson III. He brings both experience and playmaking ability to the secondary. Johnson, formerly of the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams, is known for excelling in multiple defensive schemes. With the Panthers’ secondary showing signs of vulnerability in coverage, Johnson’s addition could be a game-changer. His ability to read offenses and make crucial plays on the ball would provide a significant boost to a young and developing secondary. Johnson’s leadership and experience would also help in grooming younger defensive backs. This would ensure a cohesive and resilient unit capable of standing up to the league’s top passing attacks."

Johnson is no stranger to Evero's demands. The pair worked closely together during their time on the Los Angeles Rams, so the transition would be a smooth one if the Panthers ended up going down this route.

The former third-round selection is an outstanding communicator on the backend with the coverage capabilities to match. Johnson is instinctive enough to help on running plays consistently and has gone over 100 tackles three times over his seven NFL seasons. The benefits of adding him are obvious, but whether it's something Carolina genuinely considers is another matter.

Jordan Fuller - another Evero loyalist - joined the ranks in free agency and should start alongside Xavier Woods. The Panthers also seem confident in their safety depth options after Sam Franklin Jr. re-signed. However, this is dependent on whether young players like Jammie Robinson and Alex Cook improve throughout the preparation period.

At the very least, Johnson would be a strong insurance policy who can slot in at a moment's notice. The player is probably looking for more than that despite being on the proverbial scrap heap at this late stage of the offseason. There's also the money factor to potentially complicate matters.

If the Panthers were going to make another addition to their secondary, one would expect it to be a cornerback rather than safety assistance. That is a unit in desperate need of help, so pursuing Johnson might not be high on the Panthers' list of priorities when one factors everything into the equation.