Under The Radar FA Options for Panthers Defense and ST

Given our (projected) limited funds this offseason, I've taken the liberty of doing a little bit of research and finding a few under the radar players that we could potentially look at to fill holes on our defense and special teams unit. These players aren't stars, but they're all solid veterans that would make a noticable impact on our defense or special teams.

Rocky McIntosh, OLB - A natural weak-side LB, the 29 year-old Miami alum has been a consistent, if unspectacular performer. Coming into this year, he had recorded at least 87 tackles in four straight years. Benched mid-season after giving up a long touchdown reception, he could look to join former teammate Jon Beason and return to a 4-3 defense. McIntosh is from Gaffney, SC (just 55 miles from Charlotte) so playing closer to home may be a factor for him as well.

Manny Lawson, OLB - The best way to describe Lawson is as an athletic freak. The former NC State defensive end has played LB in the NFL, both in a 3-4 in San Francisco and more recently a 4-3 in Cincinnati. He has become known for shutting down opposing tight ends and being a productive pass rusher, despite low sack totals. Personally I believe he'd be best used as a base 4-3 OLB, 3-4 rush LB, and nickle defensive end, much as Oakland has done with Kamerion Wimbley. He's also a native of the Carolinas, graduating from Eastern Wayne HS in Goldsboro.

Terrell Thomas, CB - Thomas was looking for a big payday this offseason but tore his ACL in the preseason. A big, phyical corner, Thomas is a solid #2 that has shown a nack for making plays. Though worth much more than what he'll likely get, his knee injury may knock his price down into our range.

Reggie Nelson, S - After battling inconsistencies in Jacksonville, Nelson has seemingly found a home in Cincinnati. He's an underrated playmaker, but may have found a long-term home in the Bengals defense.

Steve Gregory, S - The Chargers' starting strong safety make seek to follow his former defensive coordinator across the country to Carolina. Gregory doesn't do anything particularly well, but he doesn't have any glaring weakness either. He's reportedly looking for a starting job this offseason but since he's not much more than just an average player, he may find that most teams will be as non-committal to him as the Chargers have been.

Pat Sims, DT - Meet the 26 year-old Ron Edwards. He's a big run stuffer that's been a vital part of the Bengals defensive line rotation that may be looking to grab a starting job this offseason. Coming in at 325lbs he's certainly a space eater, but he's shown some flashes of pass-rushing ability as well with five career sacks as a rotational DT.

Amobi Okoye, DT - A favorite of CSR last offseason, he'll be on the market again this year. He recorded four sacks and six hits on the quarterback as a rotational DT. Only 24, you've got to think there's still some upside here that could be reached.

Brodrick Bunkley, DT - One of the Broncos' starting defensive tackles, he was recently rated by Pro Football Focus as the best DT against the run in 2011. I don't think I need to go into details as to how that would help us out.

Jason Hunter, DE/OLB - An Appalachian State alum and Fayetteville native, Hunter has experience as both a 4-3 DE and a 3-4 OLB. He's scheme versatile and would make for a good reserve to go with Applewhite and Keiser. Hunter was a special teams ace for the Packers early in his career, something the Panthers are sorely missing.

Tim Shaw, LB - The former Panther is consistently among the league leaders in special teams tackles. A true special teams ace.

Corey Lynch, S - Another App guy (I'm biased, but they've produced some solid role players), Lynch has shown some ability as a back-up safety, gunner, and has a nack for blocking kicks that makes him a valuable piece on special teams.

And this guy isn't quite under the radar, but one we should look at nonetheless

Connor Barth, K - The Buccaneers' kicker was quite simply one of the best in the league last year. Barth made an amazing 92.9% of his kicks and is from Wilmington.

So, what do you guys think of the list? Obviously this is just a list of players I like, make some suggestions as to some under the radar guys we should sign in the comments.

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