Carolina Panthers: Looking To Improve the Defensive Line

The Panthers have a few options available for defensive tackle. They got off to a good start by adding a player from within the NFC South.

This off season the Carolina Panthers made moves to bring back veteran such as fullback Mike Tolbert and defensive end Charles Johnson – the latter after he had been released by the team.

However, the team needs to look outside its current roster in order to create some depth at defensive tackle. The Panthers are built on having a powerful defense; especially when it comes to stopping the run. In order to continue that strength, the team needs to find a way to add depth on the roster. These are some viable options to look into during the NFL free agency period.

The Panthers have limited options to fill this immediate need. David Newton of ESPN mentioned that B.J. Raji is a viable selection to fit into this defensive unit.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Raji may not be available for play next season. According to Ian Rappaport of NFL Network, the former Pro Bowler may take some time away from the sport.

“I’m taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 NFL season,” Raji said in a statement released by the Packers. “I cannot rule out a return to the NFL in the future, but I will definitely not be playing during the 2016 season.”

So what feasible choices remain? First and foremost there is Paul Soliai, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. After being cut by the Falcons Soliai visited the Panthers this past weekend as reported by Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. On Tuesday, via Rapoport, he’ll signed a two-year deal with Carolina.

Soliai is a great choice even though he’s never been a huge statistical standout. However, that does not mean one should question his value. He’s the type of player that allows his teammates to make big plays. Consistency is also key because Soliai has been healthy throughout much of his career. In his nine previous years in the league, he’s played in at least 14 games in eight of those seasons. Being a former members of the Falcons there’s certainly some value that he can bring to the Panthers as they are consistently threatened by their division rivals.

Jan 24, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs the ball as Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kyle Love (93) defends during the second quarter in the NFC Championship football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers may also want to revisit the idea of resigning Kyle Love. They brought love in for one season in 2015 and even though he played in 15 games, the Panthers were not quick to bring him back to the roster. With the Panthers he was able to put together an improved, but not great year. Bringing him back for another year allows them to add depth with valuable experience at the position. Especially if they sign another player, locking Love in at a value allows them to save money and the struggle of new players learning their defensive scheme.

The defensive tackle position has long been a key component to the Panthers’ ability to stuff the run. The organization is looking to refill its coffers through free agency, but the options are quite limited. Soliai may prove to be a good start but there’s more work to be done here.

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