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3 Players Who Won't Be on the Panthers Roster Next Season

Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers / Alex Burstow/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have nearly $20 million in cap space to work with as free agency approaches in March. The Panthers are preparing to become major players on the free-agent market, and last week parted ways with some veterans and restructured contracts to free up more finanaical resources. The cuts included starters Tre Boston at free safety and defensive tackle Kawann Short.

More moves are coming, including potential trades. Will the Panthers trade for QB Deshaun Watson and give up multiple draft picks including their No. 8 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Head coach Matt Rhule starts his second season in 2021 with more resources to improve on back-to-back 5-11 seasons. Here are three more players that will likely not be playing for the Panthers in 2021.

1. Tahir Whitehead, LB

Tahir Whitehead is a free agent, and the Panthers defensive captain and his $2.5 million salary won't likely be brought back by the team. The soon-to-be 31-year-old had a very poor season and lost his starting job at middle linebacker to Jermaine Carter, Jr. in midseason. Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Whitehead near the very bottom of 83 qualifying linebackers with a extremely poor 31.9 overall grade.

2. Adarius Taylor, LB

Adarius Taylor returned to the Panthers in 2020 after initially playing for the team as an undrafted player in 2014. He couldn't make an impact when given the opportunity as a backup. Taylor will have a tough time catching on with another team as an unrestricted free agent.

3. Russell Okung, LT

The Panthes acquired Russell Okung a year ago, and the 32-year-old missed nine games due to a calf injury. Okung struggled a bit in the seven games he appeared, and allowed three sacks and committed four penalties. Still, his PFF pass protection grade of 80 was solid. Okung ranted publicly a few years ago about the need to overhaul the league's Collective Barganing Agreement to protect players salaries. The two time Pro Bowler is making big bucks with an average salary of $13 million, and he's an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team. The Panthers can still make a bid to resign a key player they just traded for last year. The bet is against Okung returning to Carolina.

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