The 2021 season certainly didn't go to plan for the Carolina Panthers. They finished at the bottom of the NFC South division with a 5-12 record and looked stagnant on both sides of the football. However, the Panthers are in line to have a strong offseason given their projected cap space.
Carolina is projected to have over $17 million to use in the free agent market and that number could easily increase with a few roster cuts. With quarterback Tom Brady retiring, the division is suddenly up for grabs. Don't be surprised if the Panthers decide to sign a couple of big names this offseason.
Here's a look at three free agents that the Panthers need to sign to win the NFC South next season.
Panthers Free Agent Targets
1. Connor Williams, OL
The Panthers' pass blocking up front was simply a mess in 2021. Carolina allowed the fifth-most sacks in the NFL (52.0) and saw little improvement from their starters outside of tackle Taylor Moton. Signing an offensive lineman should be a top priority for this front office and Connor Williams sticks out as a potential target here. The fourth-year pro has played in every game over the last two seasons and his athleticism allows him to get to the second level during running plays. Yes, Williams needs to improve when it comes to drawing penalties. He would still be the second-best OL on this team, though, and is a more affordable option than most other candidates.
2. Kwon Alexander, LB
Starting linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. did not bring much to the table this past season, which puts the Panthers in the position to sign a LB in free agency. Kwon Alexander may not be the big name Carolina fans were hoping for, but he remains an underrated option. The veteran playmaker posted a career-high 3.5 sacks in 2021 and logged 50 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble (12 games played). His versatility in coverage and pass-rushing would instantly upgrade the Panthers defense as a whole. The fact that Alexander has signed short-term deals in the past should interest the front office, too. Signing him would be a win for all parties involved.
3. Jameis Winston, QB
Quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Cam Newton struggled in 2021 as the Panthers finished with an average of 190.5 passing yards per game (No. 29 in NFL). Carolina could opt to go all-in and sign Jameis Winston to be the starter moving forward. The 28-year-old was playing some of the best football of his career before suffering a knee injury in Week 8. Overall, Winston averages a respectable 252.8 passing yards per game in his career and also has experience playing in the NFC South. Head coach Matt Rhule has yet to have a QB he can shape an offense around during his tenure. That could all change with one single signing.
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Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.