Why the Panthers Should Target TE Jordan Reed

Jack Duffy

Jordan Reed has not been dealt the best of hands during his football career when it comes to injuries. Spectators have witnessed the immense potential Reed possesses but he has not been able to stay on the field as he has been plagued by concussions, which began during his collegiate career at the University of Florida.

Prior to being selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, Reed was already marked with red flags from scouts due to suffering three concussions with the Gators. As we sit here in June of 2020, the former Pro Bowl tight end has now suffered seven concussions.

Reed missed the entire 2019 NFL season after suffering a hit from Falcons’ Keanu Neal during week three of the preseason that caused him to be in the league’s concussion protocol for six months. Over the past three seasons, the former Redskin has missed 29 games.

With the number of head injuries he has recorded along with being released from the Redskins in February, many thought Reed would hang up his cleats and call it a career - as we have seen with former Panther, Luke Kuechly. ESPN’s Joh Keim reported in February that Reed is not going to retire yet and that he “100 percent” wants to continue playing.

Now we inevitably turn to the question as to whether the Carolina Panthers should take a chance at signing the 2016 Pro Bowler Jordan Reed. The answer is yes.

When Reed is healthy, he is one of the most dynamic tight ends in the NFL, possessing top-notch speed that is able to boost him past defensive backs accompanied with elite hands, route running, and a combination of great strength and length.

In 65 career games, he has totaled 329 receptions for 3,371 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has never played a full 16-game season but when he is active on the gridiron, his production is unquestionable but most often the best ability is availability.

As for the Panthers, taking a chance on Reed would come with little to no consequences. It would be a low risk, high reward investment. 

The team currently lacks any competent talent at the tight end position following Greg Olsen’s decision to sign with Seattle this offseason. The team’s current tight end group includes Ian Thomas & Chris Manhertz - who have combined for just 58 receptions in their careers with Thomas owning 52 of those receptions. The two other tight ends, Temarrick Hemingway and Colin Thompson have both not recorded a single reception thus far in their NFL careers. So if it is not quite obvious already, the Panthers desperately need any help they can get at the tight end position.

Let’s be hypothetical here for a second and say the Panthers do indeed sign Jordan Reed. First, it does them no harm because if you are a numbers guy then you would say with almost certainty that the probability of Reed contributing to the team is absurdly higher than that of Manhertz, Hemingway, or Thompson due to the immense talent Reed possesses. Neither of those tight ends has proven that they should be invested in or taken priority over the talents of a guy like Jordan Reed. Yes, Reed does have to stay healthy but taking the risk on him for the chance that he could return close to his old self is one you ought to gamble on - especially when you consider the Panthers’ dire need for depth and experience at tight end.

Reed cleared the NFL concussion protocol over four months ago and as previously stated, he does want to continue his NFL career. He has missed live reps on the field but apart from head injuries, there aren’t any other injury concerns for the Florida product. From the neck down, he should still be in good shape.

If the unfortunate occurs and Jordan Reed suffers his eighth concussion - in the hypothetical that Carolina signs him - it would almost be a surefire thing that he would call it quits. The Panthers would put him on IR and go another direction whether that’s via free agency or promoting someone from the practice squad. Again, the team would still have Manhertz and Thomas on the roster so Carolina would be in the same position they are in now if Reed ends up not panning out. Let's say it again, low risk. 

If you are still sitting here not yet sold on the idea of the Panthers signing Jordan Reed then just sit back and think what Carolina has to lose. They are slotted to have one of the worst records in the NFL this season and many would respond to that with, "Well then the team should just give a young tight end those snaps." If you check out the Panthers’ roster, Ian Thomas will likely get the nod to start but other than that, the team did not draft a young promising tight end and the other guys on the roster are either just training camp guys, or in Chris Manhertz’ case, on the team to primarily help in the run game.

A team in the Panthers' situation - at the dawn of a rebuild - can afford to gamble on a low risk, high reward opportunity like Jordan Reed. Carolina should most certainly take a chance on Reed as it could benefit both parties, potentially becoming a place where the former Pro Bowler can look to revive his NFL career. Reed could potentially make this already lethal Panthers’ passing attack that much more deadly.

How would you feel if the Panthers signed Jordan Reed? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and discuss it with fellow Panther fans!

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