With Julius Peppers likely on the way out, the Carolina Panthers are losing one of the most talented players to ever wear a Panther's uniform. Losing him will no doubt be a blow to our defense and anyone who says that losing Pepper's won't affect our D is a fool. Losing someone who is that big of a game changer, even if he takes plays off, is an incredible loss. So, the question is, who would you like to see us go after in Free Agency.
I'm not talking necessarily about how we will replace Peppers or add depth on the D-Line, I'm talking about any position that could add talent to this team. I'm seeing a FA class that is quite weak at DE, so I'm thinking, maybe our D-Line takes a bit of a step back, but what if we surround the rest of the team with more talent. Where do you think we should look?
I'd like to explore two defensive players I would love to see the Panthers pursue:
1) Vince Wilfork:
Vince is a massive load to say the least. At 6'2", 325 lbs, he is a force in the middle that is an incredible run stopper. He has anchored the NT position for the NE Patriots for a long time and has been absolutely spectacular, making a name for himself as one of the best NTs in the league. He is 28 years old, and an UFA. The dilemma is that there is speculation that the Patriots will use their Franchise Tag on him to keep him there, despite his statements that he strongly desires not to be tagged. If he hits the open market, he would demand a pretty large contract (but it would look miniscule compared to what Peppers wants). I'd love to see this big man plugging up the middle of our run defense for a long time to come.
Dansby is known to be a great playmaking ILB for the Arizona Cardinals. He is excellent in pass coverage and as great size for a linebacker (6'4" 250 lbs.). He plays the ILB position in a 3-4 defense as of now, which is what causes some bit of a dilemma here because Carolina runs a 4-3. However, hear me out. Jon Beason (We all love him at MLB) played OLB in college at Miami. In fact, the Panthers had originally drafted him to play WLB (Weak-side Linebacker) before Dan Morgan went down, again..., like every year. Beason stepped in at MLB and has shined there ever since. Dansby's ILB position is much more like MLB than OLB, and I think someone with his athleticism and talent could make the switch pretty easily. Our LB Corps would consist of: Jon Beason (SLB), Karlos Dansby (MLB), Thomas Davis (WLB). Davis has flourished at WLB which is why I would hesitate moving him and playing Beason at his natural WLB. Our linebacking corps would easily be tops in the league, and it would help our pass coverage even more which will be hurt by the loss of Pepper's pass rushing skills. Let's face it, Diggs is solid, but he has certainly gotten slower and it's been noticeable on the field.
These are just two of the guys that I have on my wishlist. They are both a stretch and I by no means expect either of them to be with us next season, but I can always hope, can't I....
Having said that, let me know who you guys have been eyeing out there...