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Top free agents remaining at positions of need for the Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have several needs and there are still some good free agents out there for them to sign.

As of this writing, the Carolina Panthers have $15.7 million in cap space to sign free agents. That puts them in the bottom 10 teams (there are only seven teams with less cap space than the Panthers right now) and will probably make it difficult for them to add any quality free agents to the roster.

While the Panthers aren’t expected to go on a huge shopping spree during free agency, there are still some good players out there who could be in Carolina’s price range. SB Nation has put together a ranking of the Top 103 free agents for fans to see who’s available to be signed, so let’s dive into it and see who’s available at some of Carolina’s positions of need.

I’ve excluded any free agents who have already signed contracts, since the Panthers wouldn’t be able to sign them anyway.

Offensive tackle

There are only two free agents remaining in SB Nation’s Top 103 list. One of them is a familiar face to Panthers fans.

Best free agents remaining

Daryl Williams (No. 12 overall) — UFA, 26 years old
George Fant (No. 99 overall) — RFA, 26 years old

Given how much money offensive tackles are getting in today’s NFL, the Panthers are probably not going to be able to afford either one of the two remaining free agents on the list. They’re either going to have to shop in the bargain bin, or use one of their draft picks to get someone to protect Cam Newton’s blind side. The Panthers and Williams have reportedly been too far apart during contract talks for us to expect him to stay in Carolina, so there’s a good chance the Panthers stay away from the left tackle aisle in free agency this year. That might be a good thing, because the last time they spent big money on a left tackle it went so well that we’re still happy about it to this day.

Defensive end

This is where the Panthers could really make an impact. There are plenty of quality guys left to choose from.

Best free agents remaining

Ezekiel Ansah (No. 20 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
Alex Okafor (No. 34 overall) — UFA, 28 years old
Bruce Irvin (No. 48 overall) — UFA, 31 years old
Muhammad Wilkerson (No. 56 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
Cameron Wake (No. 61 overall) — UFA, 37 years old
Allen Bailey (No. 63 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
Michael Johnson (No. 69 overall) — UFA, 32 years old
Shane Ray (No. 103 overall) — UFA, 25 years old

The Panthers should absolutely check in on Shane Ray to see if he’s affordable and willing to play in Carolina. He’s a versatile outside linebacker/defensive end who would fit well in Ron Rivera’s new ‘hybrid defense’ that is reportedly coming in 2019. The Panthers desperately need a pass rush, and I don’t know about anyone else but I’m not really concerned with how they get it. Whether it’s an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or a defensive end in a 4-3 doesn’t matter to me. If the Panthers bring in a player who can put pressure on the quarterback, I’m all for it.


The Panthers need to replace the retiring Ryan Kalil and could do so in free agency if they choose to use their draft picks on other positions of need.

Best free agents remaining

Matt Paradis (No. 16 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
John Sullivan (No. 83 overall) — UFA, 33 years old
Nick Easton (No. 84 overall) — UFA, 26 years old

Garrett Bradbury is the best center prospect in this year’s draft class, but I’m not sure he’s worth taking No. 16 overall and I don’t think he’ll still be available by the time the Panthers are on the clock in the second round. I think the Panthers would be better served taking a look at either Easton or Paradis to see if they can be had for an affordable deal.


The Panthers should probably look for at least one guard in either the draft or free agency. Greg Van Roten and Tyler Larsen are good, but they’re not great. The Panthers could also use some depth on the interior.

Best free agents remaining

Rodger Saffold (No. 36 overall) — UFA, 30 years old
Ramon Foster (No. 42 overall) — UFA, 33 years old
Andy Levitre (No. 46 overall) — UFA, 32 years old
Mike Iupati (No. 55 overall) — UFA, 31 years old
James Carpenter (No. 68 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
Billy Turner (No. 93 overall) — UFA, 27 years old

There are several names on this list to choose from, but I would lean towards the bottom half just based on the cost:value ratio. The Panthers can’t afford to tie up all their available cap space into a guard, but if they can find the right deal it wouldn’t hurt to add one to the roster for depth.

Wide receiver

The Panthers only have four receivers on the roster who are projected to make the 53-man roster. Devin Funchess is leaving via free agency after signing a one-year deal with the Colts, so the Panthers will need to add at least one player to the wide receiver room. There’s a chance they’ll just draft someone on Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft, but there are a few decent options available in free agency if they wanted to go that route.

Best free agents remaining

Golden Tate (No. 27 overall) — UFA, 30 years old
Randall Cobb (No. 67 overall) — UFA, 28 years old
Cole Beasley (No. 76 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
Tyrell Williams (No. 86 overall) — UFA, 27 years old
Cordarrelle Patterson (No. 91 overall) — UFA, 27 years old

I don’t know if any of these guys are worth signing other than Tate and Cobb, and they’re probably too expensive for the Panthers. I suppose they could sign Beasley or Williams, but if they’re going to sign Beasley I’d rather them just bring Brenton Bersin back to be honest. Patterson wouldn’t be a bad signing, but I don’t think the Panthers would bring him in. The Patriots will probably keep him anyway.

Free safety

Unfortunately there’s only one name on the Top 103 list and he’s going to be so far out of the Panthers’ price range that it’s really pointless for me to even mention it, but I’m sure someone would complain if I didn’t.

Best free agents remaining

Earl Thomas (No. 6 overall) — UFA, 29 years old
Tre Boston (Not ranked) — UFA, 26 years old
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Not ranked) — UFA, 26 years old

The Panthers can’t afford Thomas unless they offload some of their current players to make cap space, but doing that creates even more holes than they already had. Thomas has said he wants at least a two-year deal worth at least $14 million per year to sign anywhere, and while he’s an amazing talent and one of the best free safeties in the league he’s simply out of Marty Hurney’s price range.

While he’s the only one left on SBN’s Top 103 list, Thomas isn’t the only free safety available. Tre Boston and Ha Ha Clinton Dix are two other names the Panthers could consider to pair with Eric Reid.

Clinton-Dix is a free agent after spending last year in Washington. He was drafted by Green Bay in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and played his first four years there, but was traded to Washington in October 2018. Washington signed Landon Collins to a massive six-year, $84 million contract yesterday, so there’s a good chance they’re going to let Clinton-Dix go in free agency. He’s a player the Panthers should probably keep an eye on since he can probably be had for a relatively cheap deal.

Boston isn’t the best free safety in the league, but he’s better than anything else the Panthers currently have on their roster and he’ll probably be affordable since he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Cardinals last year. That’s the kind of shopping Hurney has to do if he’s going to use free agency to fill holes on this roster. If the Panthers are not willing to go after Boston but want to get a free safety, they’re probably going to have to grab one in the draft.

Which free agents would you like to sign, Panthers fans? Let’s hear what you have to say!