This is a move that gives the Panthers some solid depth behind Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. I’m not prepared to say this takes Carolina out of the mix for North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples if he’s available with the No. 9 pick in the draft. Coples could be a special player and the Panthers may take him, if they really like him.
But the return of Applewhite means it’s not urgent for the Panthers to get another defensive end. Applewhite made a bit of a surprising impact after being signed in October. He had 21 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble while playing in 12 games.
Applewhite is versatile and athletic and could even line up at linebacker. He played for Carolina coach Ron Rivera when Rivera was defensive coordinator for the Chargers and that’s part of the reason he was signed. Applewhite was re-signed because he performed even better than the Panthers expected last season. With a full offseason and training camp, Applewhite could earn even more playing time in the rotation of the defensive line.