Do the Panthers See Potential in Ian Thomas?

Schuyler Callihan

The numerous moves made this offseason by the Carolina Panthers have been well documented and one thing is starting to stick out when you look at all the moves they have made - no big moves at tight end.

Carolina let all four of their starting defensive lineman from 2019 walk and signed Stephen Weatherly and drafted Derrick Brown (Auburn) and Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State). Luke Kuechly rode off into early retirement and the team signed Tahir Whitehead in his place. After releasing veteran safety Eric Reid, the Panthers put an emphasis on the safety position in the draft by selecting Jeremy Chinn in the second round and Kenny Robinson in the fifth. At corner, James Bradberry was too expensive, so they replaced him with Eli Apple and Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame).

Offensively, Cam Newton was released in March, which was a factor of the team signing Teddy Bridgewater. Running back Christian McCaffrey was signed to a massive contract extension, the receiving corps received a boost with the addition of Robby Anderson, the offensive line was retooled with Michael Schofield, Russell Okung, and John Miller, and oh yeah, kicker Joey Slye agreed to a contract extension. So one would think that with this trend, the Panthers would do something similar in regards to the tight end position. They haven't. After releasing veteran and fan favorite Greg Olsen, the team thus far has decided to stick with the young Ian Thomas. Does this mean the Panthers feel confident in his abilities to replace Olsen? 

According to Dr. Roto of Sports Illustrated, Thomas is a guy that could very well have a breakout season in 2020.

“Thomas flashed over the past two seasons as a backup, but with Greg Olsen gone, he will be highly involved in the offense as the Panthers’ starter. I always say that opportunity equals fantasy points, and Thomas should have a chance to catch four to five targets per week in Joe Brady’s RPO offense.”

I'm still on the fence about Thomas. He's not a receiving tight end or if he is, he hasn't proven it yet. Recently, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku requested a trade to get out of Cleveland and to me, he makes perfect sense for this Panthers offense. He would be the best replacement available on the market and it's honestly not even close. Yes, the Panthers have some issues with their cap space, but they can still acquire Njoku should they choose to go down that route. 

If Carolina decides that Njoku isn't worth trading for and they stick with Ian Thomas heading into the 2020 season, it shows that the coaching staff has a tremendous amount of confidence in the third year man out of Indiana.

Do you think Ian Thomas should be the Panthers tight end moving forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

This guy has what it takes give him a chance and watch what he does.

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