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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Natalie Miller

4 free-agent defenders the Panthers could still sign

Much of the Carolina Panthers’ offseason has been all about the offense—and that’s to be expected for a team who traded their star wide receiver to get into a position for a franchise quarterback. But there’s still another side of the ball, one the team can make a few additions to this upcoming week.

So, here are four defenders the Panthers may look into signing during the second phase of free agency.

EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A local hero’s homecoming? The narrative would be nice, but the value the Rock Hill, S.C. native could bring to the team may even be better.

Clowney spent the last two years with the Cleveland Browns. While he hasn’t been an ultra-productive sack artist—with only 11.0 takedowns over that span—he has maintained his status as a disruptor and elite run defender.

The former No. 1 overall pick would slide in perfectly with defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero’s new 3-4 base defense. Clowney could play as a defensive end in a rotation with DeShawn Williams or work primarily over the shoulder as an edge rusher.

Given Evero’s penchant for versatility, he would likely end up doing a little bit of both should he sign with the hometown Panthers.

EDGE Yannick Ngakoue

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

With Yetur Gross-Matos having yet to establish himself as an impactful pass rusher, the Panthers still need a proven talent opposite Pro Bowler Brian Burns. And while Frankie Luvu may end up further solidifying himself at that role in the 3-4 base, you can never have too many heat seekers.

Ngakoue has been highly productive over the last two seasons with both the Indianapolis Colts and Las Vegas Raiders—amassing 19.5 sacks between 2021 and 2022. He would fit perfectly as a stand-up rusher in this style of defense and could bring yet another speedster off the edge.

DL Shelby Harris

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

While Carolina has added both Deshawn Williams and Shy Tuttle to their defensive line, having depth and a fresh rotation up front could prove crucial. Harris, who has experience in this scheme, could be an intriguing option.

He hasn’t lit up the box scores, having totaled 2.0 sacks this past season. But the 290-pounder still has enough left in the tank to help hold this front down.

CB Marcus Peters

AP Photo/Nick Wass

While Peters is not quite the corner he once was, he’s still an effective outside presence who could start opposite Jaycee Horn. Carolina showed they needed help at the position at the end of last season—and regardless of if he starts or not, the depth will prove immensely helpful during the season.

Peters’ experience—as well as his feisty and game-breaking nature—would fit perfectly into the secondary. He could immediately provide the energy needed to push this stacked defense over the top.

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