Carolina Panthers add intriguing tight end option to roster
The Carolina Panthers signed a few more names from the AAF on Monday.
The Carolina Panthers officially signed five players on Monday, several of whom had experience in the AAF. One of them we reported on earlier in the week in Rashad Ross. One of the names that flew under the radar that I think might be able to have an impact in the regular season is tight end Thomas Duarte.
A second-year player out of UCLA, he first put pen to paper with the Miami Dolphins, as he signed with the team on May 24, 2016. A four-year contract, it was evident that the Dolphins had him in their long-term plans. Those plans did not last long however as he bounced from the roster to the practice squad. He finally cut ties with the Miami Dolphins for good on September 2 as he was waived by the organization. Picked up a day later by the Los Angeles Chargers, he was added to the practice squad. He was then removed from the practice squad on September 25.
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It is safe to say that it has been an up-and-down career for Duarte. Now, he could potentially find some stability with the Carolina Panthers. Picking up a tight end may seem weird given the fact that Ian Thomas appears to be the future at the position. However, besides him and Olsen, there is a ton of unproven depth.
Chris Manhertz played well in spurts last season, but it wasn’t enough to warrant solidifying him in any particular spot. He admittedly got overshadowed a bit by Thomas, who performed so well in the absence of Olsen that everyone else behind him was kind of forgotten. Jason Vander Laan is a complete wildcard, and we don’t know what he brings to the table.
At the very least, Duarte is worth taking a flyer on. While with the Bruins, he had a decent career with his best year coming in his junior campaign in 2015. He caught 53 passes for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 16.5 yards per catch. It was evident that he was starting to break out in the 2014 campaign. Catching 28 passes for 540 yards and four touchdowns, he tallied 19.3 yards per catch. That year, he was showing that he could be a playmaking tight end. It was just a matter of him being able to put it all together, and he did that during his senior year.
With the Panthers going to the proverbial “well” that was the AAF, we will see if any of these signings pan out. Duarte has the potential and skills to at least be a solid camp body. At the very least, no matter what he turns out to be for the Carolina Panthers, he was an intriguing signing on Monday.