The Carolina Panthers would be wise to take a flyer on him…
Tim Weaver of PanthersWire.com put together a slideshow on Wednesday that listed four possible free agent candidates to take Manhertz’s place. One of them was former Miami Dolphin and Jacksonville Jaguar Julius Thomas. Out of all the names in the slideshow, Thomas stood out to me as the one that would be the best fit.
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For starters, Thomas has the ability to put up numbers. While with the Denver Broncos, Thomas spent four seasons there and really took off in the 2013 campaign. His best year to this point was in 2013 when he caught 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. Averaging 12.1 yards per catch, he proved to be an offensive weapon that year. He recorded 12 touchdowns again in 2014, but his numbers were down as he snagged 43 passes for 489 yards.
His numbers would continue to decrease during his time in Denver and he would look for new pastures in the 2015 offseason. Signing a five-year $46 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, my guess is they hoped Thomas could amass the same level of production as he did in Denver. Spending two seasons with Jacksonville, Thomas never found that spark he had in Denver, as his production numbers continued to drop.
Last March, Thomas was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a seventh-round pick signaling that his stock dropped even more. He continued to struggle with the Dolphins, catching 41 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns. These numbers were up a tick from 2016, but even still, these were not the numbers of past seasons.
As a result of his stock having dropped, Thomas would make the most sense for the Carolina Panthers as a backup tight end. He would probably come relatively cheap and playing with a quarterback like Cam Newton, that could elevate his game. Make no mistake, Greg Olsen is still the starter.
Thomas would provide the Carolina Panthers with a nice option at the backup position. This would be a low-risk, high-reward signing and it would make the most sense. Thomas has the size and athleticism to make an impact, particularly in the red zone.
The Carolina Panthers should not break the bank in finding a backup tight end and Julius Thomas would be the guy to do that. His stock is low enough and his upside is high enough for it to be worth the risk especially given the uncertainty of Manhertz’s injury.