Full Breakdown of the Panthers Defensive Free Agents and Possible Outcomes

Schuyler Callihan

It's that time of year folks. Free agency, the NFL Combine and NFL Draft are all upon us and with the Panthers under the direction of new head coach Matt Rhule, things could get interesting. Below, we take a look at which Panthers on the defensive side of the ball are free agents this off-season and what to expect for each player.

DT Dontari Poe: The team has a club option in 2020 of $9.8 million, which may be a bit steep. Poe hasn't necessarily produced at the same rate that he did during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. With a lot of talent in this year's upcoming draft, it may be wise to let Poe walk and bring in an infusion of young talent.

DT Vernon Butler Jr.: The Panthers declined the 5th year option on Butler and appear to be moving in a different direction this off-season. Butler came to Carolina with a lot of potential, but never amounted to the hype and may be best with a fresh start.

DE Gerald McCoy: Although he may be a tad on the expensive side, McCoy re-signing would be a big boost for the Panthers. However, he is an unrestricted free agent, so expect him to test the waters and look to join a contender.

LB Bruce Irvin: Carolina found a nice little addition in Bruce Irvin a year ago, adding a solid pass rusher to the mix. This past season, he totaled 36 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Irvin should be very affordable for the Panthers, should they show interest in re-signing him to a new deal.

LB Mario Addison: The longtime Panther has become a free agent and although the Panthers would love to bring him back, it will all depend on how much money they are willing to spend and if they plan to rebuild or retool. Addison didn't necessarily flourish in the NFL until he reached Carolina and has spent the last seven seasons wreaking havoc in the backfield and applying pressure on the quarterback. 

CB Ross Cockrell: The journeyman corner is in position to potentially join another team, which would make his 4th team in his first six years in the league. The Charlotte native has been a pleasant surprise and has emerged as the teams number two corner, behind only James Bradberry.

CB James Bradberry: Rumors have floated around that Bradberry would like to join former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera in Washington, but also would like to play out the rest of his career in Carolina. The Panthers must be willing to spend a little money in order to keep him and if they are unable, they will need to address the position immediately.

CB Javien Elliott: The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer joined the Panthers this past season and became a solid contributor to Carolina's defense. He finished the season with 37 tackles and one interception.

FS Tre Boston: His second stint with the Panthers is off to a much better start than his first go-around, but whether they'll be able to retain him is the biggest question. In 2019, he played in 1,127 snaps registering 68 tackles and three interceptions becoming one of the more reliable members of the secondary.

Other free agents: DT Kyle Love, DT Stacy McGee.

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