Greg Olsen essential part of Carolina Panthers offense … again

(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) Greg Olsen
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) Greg Olsen /

Could Greg Olsen *really* have gone to Monday Night Football as a commentator even if he had a contract for 2018 with the Carolina Panthers?

Greg Olsen had some time in the TV booth while injured last year – what most considered a successful trial run as color guy for a Vikings-Rams game the week before his return – but apparently getting the productive tight end and Cam Newton security blanket back on the field wasn’t much of a concern for Carolina Panthers management.

Olsen came to training camp last season when he wasn’t happy with his contract, his rationale coming down to everything going on  (Marty Hurney eventually replaced Dave Gettleman as general manager) and he didn’t feel staying out added to any team situations.

Gettleman’s handling of great player-citizens-team representatives like Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis went against the grain enough with founder and former owner, Jerry Richardson, that he brought Hurney back. Incentives were then added to Olsen’s compensation more like the 80 catch-Walter Payton Man of Year candidate deserved. The two-year contract extension he signed in late April completes the upgrade, making it worth $8.5M to $10M a year.

While last year’s foot injury limited his production and incentive income, Olsen figures to benefit plenty from the offensive production of new coordinator Norv Turner’s system in Carolina. When Turner was in the same position with Cleveland (2013), Josh Gordon lead the league with 87 catches for 1,646 yards and 9 TDs – double his yardage from the year before.

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When Rob Chudzinski was offensive coordinator Newton’s rookie year and utilized many of Turner’s principles, the Panthers lead the league in explosive plays (20-plus yards gained) with 90 and set team records for total yards (6,237), with 345 first downs and 48 touchdowns.

Olsen’s productivity: 45 catches, 540 yards, five scores and along with fellow Miami product Jeremy Shockey, they moved the sticks consistently on third-down, a Panthers sore spot last year.

Turner’s offenses have produced 16-1,000 yard rushers, 15-1,000 receivers and ten times has produced both in the same year. In 2007, Chudzinski’s offense in Cleveland created THREE 1,000 yard performers, including tight end Kellen Winslow II.

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THAT is the sort of production Panthers fans will be looking for from Olsen this season.