2020 Panthers Roster First Look: Linebackers

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By , Sports Radio WFNZ

The Carolina Panthers should be holding rookie minicamps and OTAs right now, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting the sports world down, fans are left speculating on how the Panthers roster will look. 

Even With last month’s draft completed, there’s still the possibility of some late moves before training camp is tentatively scheduled to start. 

WFNZ will take a look at each Carolina position over the next few weeks to see where each group stands. 

LINEBACKERS
Roster: Shaq Thompson; Tahir Whitehead; Brian Burns (LB/DE); Christian Miller (LB/DE); Andre Smith; Jordan Kunaszyk; Jermaine Carter; Sam Franklin (Rookie); Jason Ferris (Rookie); Jordan Mack (Rookie); Chris Orr (Rookie); David Reese (Rookie)
Key losses: Luke Kuechly, Bruce Irvin
Notable moves: One of the most shocking moves of the Panthers offseason is when Kuechly announced his sudden retirement back in January.

Kuechly has been the face of the defense since 2012 and his retirement leaves a gaping hole entering the 2020 season. 

Carolina let Irvin walk and signed Whitehead, a nine-year veteran to a one-year deal to help replace Kuechly. 

Outlook: The linebacker position is historically one of the Panthers strongest groups. Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Jon Beason, Sam Mills, Kevin Greene and Dan Morgan are just a few linebackers to don the blue and black. 

However, with the retirement of Kuechly, the Panthers face some uncertainty at the position for the first time in a while. 

Thompson signed a four-year extension last season, making him the most experienced player and he’ll be looked upon to play will linebacker.

Whitehead will more than likely slide into Kuechly’s role in the middle while Carter should play sam. 

However, head coach Matt Rhule said the flexibility of the Panthers current group could allow a lot of different rotations.

For example, second-year defensive player Brian Burns has the ability to play linebacker and defensive end and could get looks if Carter or Whitehead need rest. 

The Panthers didn’t draft a linebacker but signed a handful of undrafted free agents to fill out the group. 

Overall expectations: While the position group doesn’t have any standout names aside from Thompson, there is actually plenty of depth for new defensive coordinator Phil Snow to work with. 

Behind Thompson and Whitehead, the group is very young but the athleticism and flexibility that Burns, Miller, Carter, Smith and Kunaszyk bring should allow Carolina to experiment with a lot of different schemes.